• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Police must get up to speed with reality

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a country moving towards a single police force.

Scotland is served by an unwieldly array of quangos, councils and health boards, so moving from eight forces to one could have resulted in important savings being made.

However, as Police Scotland approaches its first birthday, questions mount about the the new force.

The early days were marred by a turf war between Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority - a fight that Chief Constable Stephen House won.

In parallel, the axe fell on crucial parts of the service: 800 civilian police staff jobs were lost, followed by vital control rooms.

Some of these changes may have been required, but today's revelations undermine the theory that Police Scotland had no choice.

Bizarrely, officers who joined the police before 1994 still pocket an allowance to help them pay the rent or mortgages on their own homes.

Since April, the taxpayer has coughed up £10.8 million in these housing allowances, including for the chief constable and his senior colleagues.

This cash could have kept hundreds of civilian police staff in jobs, but instead it was wasted on an ancient and unjustifiable perk. House should make a statement calling on this allowance to be scrapped.

There are also questions about policing strategy by the new force. For nearly 30 years, Edinburgh maintained a policy of licensing the city's "saunas", which in anyone's language are brothels.

However, last year's Police Scotland raids shattered this system and resulted in the local council taking saunas off the licensing list.

The endgame is Edinburgh now has around a dozen unregulated saunas that may be harder for the police to enter.

Stop and search is another worry, with former officers telling this newspaper that searches are simply invented to ensure the publicly-recorded numbers are high.

Not everything is bad. House is an excellent communicator who provides leadership to his colleagues. Crime has also fallen on his watch, although deep suspicion persists about figures being massaged.

But there are clear signs emerging that the critics of a single police force may have had a point. House should address these concerns, and soon.

Contextual targeting label: 
Careers and Jobs

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

219810