Policing – Scotsman Article – 14 October 2021

Policing has been under the cosh in London and in Scotland. Sarah Everard’s murder was truly shocking, serious mistakes have been made and changes there must be.

That applies in Scotland as well as south of the Border, even if transgressions have been fewer and the situation less severe.

But Police Scotland isn’t the Metropolitan Police. Both the scale of the latter and the diversity of the communities it serves makes this so. In Scotland, officers still tend to be recruited locally and serve in communities they live in or near, even if deprived urban areas can be challenging.

And whilst there are problems that afflict both, there’s still a significant difference, historically and in current operation, not only in how they operate but also in the culture that exists within the forces.

Of course, there are issues that need addressed and I’ve been critical of some actions that Police Scotland has taken recently. But they can be resolved.

Supervisory structures exist which should be sufficient to resolve areas of concern – such as the training of police officers from Sri Lanka where human rights abuse is rampant. Similarly, they need protected from political interference, whether by the Crown Office or by the government itself.

In many ways, the issues that remain are cultural issues for the country, as much as the police service.

Misogyny and sexual discrimination do exist. Those are issues that afflict our society. High-profile incidents have occurred in politics, the media and even the church. It’s not policing per se but us as a society and that’s simply reflected in our police service. But given the pivotal role of policing, it’s simply unacceptable and needs rooted out.

Reports have been carried out and their findings need implemented. What was once mistakenly viewed as just banter is simply unacceptable. It’s a minority in the service who hold such views, but they need removed. As well as changes within the organisation, a culture needs tackled.

But that’ll be done. As once a drink culture pervaded the service, racial and religious jokes or even prejudice can be a problem today, but it won’t be tolerated. And rightly so.