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Scotland's police regulator must be truly independent

John Scott, QC, succeeds where many of Scotland's politicians fail: this leading lawyer recognises the independent regulator of Scotland's police force must not be dominated by former police employees ("Former officers dominate at new police watchdog", The Herald, February 16).

It is not surprising that the Police Investigations and Review Commission (PIRC) will be so heavily populated with retired, white, male middle-aged police officers. The Commissioner served as a member of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority – a body he continued to regulate after being appointed Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland (the office that will become the PIRC on April 1). This concurrent membership does not appear to have been disclosed in the relevant register of interests, that matter now resides with the Justice Secretary.

If an organisation is not led by one who recognises the importance of perception and true independence, why would it be staffed by anything other than retired police personnel? Mr Scott recognises this is untenable and subject to costly legal challenge.

Scotland needs an independent police regulator that is truly independent, led by someone who has neither belonged to a police authority nor who has pursued a career challenging the police. Under that party, the organisation should be staffed by a diverse range of capable personnel, all of whom should be trained in the law (though not necessarily lawyers).

The lack of political challenge to the status quo is telling and perhaps best demonstrated by John Lamont of the Conservative Party who naively sees no difficulty in having an independent police regulator largely staffed by pensioned police. That lack of legal analysis is not peculiar to Mr Lamont's party, but highlights the dearth of intellectual rigour emanating from Scotland's politicians.

Allan C Steele,

22 Forres Avenue, Giffnock.

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