THE SNP were not alone in supporting the merger of Scotland’s eight police forces in 2013. The legislation behind it was also backed by Labour, while Conservative MSPs were content to abstain on the final vote.

Only half a dozen Greens and Liberal Democrats plumped for outright opposition.

But there has been only one party in charge of the merger; only one in government when Police Scotland came into being alongside its oversight body, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA); and only one party, as we learn today, ceaselessly meddling in the latter’s affairs.

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The SNP’s micromanaging has done it and policing little good.

The force is already on a second Chief Constable, and he is on special leave facing five complaints of alleged misconduct.

The SPA is in even poorer shape, a byword for spinelessness and secrecy. Its new interim chief officer, Kenneth Hogg, starts today on a year’s secondment from the Scottish Government.

He claimed yesterday that he had given personal details to an infamous adultery website to help research “data protection issues”.

The SPA is currently recruiting its third chair. That person faces an immediate uphill struggle to bring the organisation credibility.

A sensible first step would be telling ministers and officials to butt out and let the board act as intended. It has serious work to do, and their ‘help’ is not helping.