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Police Scotland 'does not rely on one individual'

Chief constable Phil Gormley has stepped aside while he is investigated by a policing watchdog.

Michael Matheson: Police Scotland to suffer 'degree of uncertainty' (file pic).
Michael Matheson: Police Scotland to suffer 'degree of uncertainty' (file pic). PA

Police Scotland "does not rely on one individual", justice secretary Michael Matheson has said.

Chief constable Phil Gormley stepped aside last week after it emerged he was the subject of two investigations into allegations of gross misconduct.

Addressing Holyrood on Tuesday, Mr Matheson said he expected Police Scotland to suffer a "degree of uncertainty" as a result of his absence.

'Police Scotland, as the second biggest force in the UK, has a breadth and depth of experience that is almost unparalleled.'
Justice secretary Michael Matheson

"The success of Police Scotland does not rely on one individual, but on a strong and experienced senior leadership team and on the professionalism and dedication of many thousands of police officers and staff at all levels," he said.

"Police Scotland, as the second biggest force in the UK, has a breadth and depth of experience that is almost unparalleled."

Mr Matheson said he was pleased deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone had put his retirement plans on hold.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1397493-police-scotland-deputy-chief-to-stay-on-at-troubled-force/ | default

Mr Livingstone has taken on responsibility for the daily operation of Police Scotland while Mr Gormley is investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

Mr Matheson told MSPs he did not foresee the situation having "any immediate impact" on controversial plans to merge the British Transport Police into Police Scotland.

"The proposed date for integration is April 2019 and I see it as very premature to suggest that there will be any impact on that timetable," he insisted.

He also said the process of finding a new chair and chief executive for watchdogs at Scottish Police Authority was "well underway", with interviews for the new chair to take place in October.

Mr Matheson added: "There will be no gap in SPA leadership."

'The SNP created the single force, and the justice secretary is happy to duck responsibility for what has occurred on its watch.'
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: "Even though Michael Matheson thought this situation serious enough to make a parliamentary statement, there was no acknowledgement from him that this is a force facing a leadership crisis.

"In its short life, Police Scotland has had the SNP government force out one chief constable, and now his successor is on special leave."

He added: "The SNP created the single force, and the justice secretary is happy to duck responsibility for what has occurred on its watch.

"Listening to the justice secretary today you'd think there was no problem at all and it is only thanks to the professionalism, dedication and hard work of officers and staff that this isn't worse.

"Unless ministers acknowledge the issues within Police Scotland, and get a grip on the situation, the public will lose even more faith in the Scottish Government's ability to sort it out."

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