MSPs to debate motion of no confidence in Police Scotland

Lib Dems demand independent commission to look at strategic problems in policing.

Police Scotland: Senior officers suspended (file pic). ©SNS Group

Holyrood is to debate a motion of no confidence in the strategic ability of Police Scotland and its Scottish Police Authority (SPA) watchdog.

The Liberal Democrats' motion, demanding ministers set up an independent commission to look at problems in policing, comes after Police Scotland lost some of its most senior staff.

Chief constable Phil Gormley is on "special leave" after allegations of gross misconduct, while assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins and two other officers have been suspended as part of an investigation into criminal and misconduct allegations.


A new chairwoman has been installed at the SPA, with former Labour health minister Susan Deacon replacing former chairman Andrew Flanagan.

He quit after MSPs raised concerns over governance and transparency at the organisation.


The motion, to be debated on Wednesday afternoon, states: "The parliament does not have confidence in the structure of both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority to deliver resilient and accountable policing at a strategic level."

It goes on to make clear that it "believes that the Scottish Government should take responsibility for this".

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: "Police officers and staff work incredibly hard, day in day out, protecting our communities.

"I know many look on in disbelief at what is going on at the top. They have been left to make the best of a bad job following the SNP's botched centralisation."

He accused the SNP of having "bulldozed" the creation of Police Scotland - which was formed from eight regional forces in 2013 - through parliament.


McArthur said: "We have heard promises of a reset before. There is no escaping the fact, however, that the current policing structures are not fit for purpose."


Deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone, who is in charge of day-to-day policing, said he had "absolute confidence" in Police Scotland's staff and leadership.

He said: "This is clearly a challenging time for policing in Scotland and my focus continues to be on meeting the operational and organisational challenges we face, and providing the leadership of policing that the people of Scotland rightly expect.

"I have absolute confidence in the leadership provided by all the officers and staff that serve in Police Scotland, and the qualities, skills and experience that we collectively possess."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Scotland is a safer country now than a decade ago - with less crime, including lower re-offending rates and fewer incidents of violence, and stronger criminal laws in place to enable our police and prosecutors tackle crimes such as sex offending and human trafficking.

"Scotland's unified police service has been key to much of this progress, with reforms helping to protect frontline policing during a period of constrained budgets, while ensuring that local officers have better access to a range of national, specialist resources in key areas of crime investigation and prevention."

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