Police Scotland is considering cost-free moves to add its Gaelic name to all its uniforms, signs and vehicles.

The national force has already come under fire from the far right for putting Poileas Alba on the new helicopter that replaced the aircraft that crashed in Glasgow last year.

But now it has launched a consultation on introducing bilingual branding more widely as part of the decade long push begun by Labour and the Liberal Democrats to give Gaelic parity of esteem.

The force, under a draft Gaelic Plan unveiled at the Royal National Mòd in Oban, also said it would look to encourage officers and staff to learn Gaelic and publish more material in the language, including online.



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Chief Superintendent Julian Innes, Local Policing Commander for Highland and Islands Division, and project lead, said: “As a public body Police Scotland has a legal obligation to develop a Gaelic Language Plan and we will do that in consultation with the communities we serve and the organisations who work with us.

“The consultation is open and accessible to anyone and I’d encourage those who would like a chance to contribute to do so by making contact with their views.

“Gaelic-speaking communities exist throughout Scotland, although obviously the majority of those who use Gaelic live across the Highlands and Islands region.”

Like road and rail signs, moves for Gaelic branding and signage in the police will have no financial cost. As with the helicopter, new branding will only be put on new kit or buildings.

This was also the case when Police Scotland was created, with many uniforms simple saying "police" rather than containing the full name of the force to avoid wasteful spending.

Bilingual signage and branding is considered best practice across Europe as a simple and cost-free way of showing that speakers of minority languages are welcome and have parity of esteem, at least theoretically.

However, in some countries far right groups have reacted with anger when minority languages became associated with symbols of state power, including road signs and, especially, the police and military.

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The new plan would also apply to the Scottish Police Authority, the main watchdog for the force. Ian Ross, SPA board member, said:

“As one of Scotland’s national languages, Gaelic has played a central part in Scotland’s culture and heritage.

"Our first Gaelic Language Plan sets out how the SPA will improve understanding and use of Gaelic within our organisation, which in turn will improve how we engage with Scotland’s communities.”

"I would encourage the public and police officers and police staff to read both the SPA and Police Scotland Gaelic Language Plans and give us their feedback on the commitments we are considering."

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Alisdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, pictured above, said: “As Minister with responsibility for Gaelic, I am delighted to support the launch of this consultation.

"The Scottish Government is firmly committed to supporting all our indigenous languages, including Gaelic.

"It is welcome to see Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority demonstrating such firm commitment to supporting Gaelic and I encourage anyone with an interest to have their say on these important publications."

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Interim CEO, Joe Moore said: “Gaelic Language Plans have proven to be successful in supporting Gaelic by mainstreaming the language in to the everyday operations of Public Bodies while offering those with Gaelic the opportunities to use the language.

"We are pleased to see Police Scotland and the SPA launch their draft plans for public consultation and look forward to working with them throughout this process."

Some of the fringes of the unionists movement on social media have spread erroneous stories suggesting that Gaelic road and rail signs cost millions of pounds every year.

Some anti-Gaelic critics earlier this year suggested that the new police helicopter had been rebranded to include Gaelic branding at an undisclosed cost. This was incorrect. The aircraft was new.

Gaelic Plans are a result of the Gaelic Act of 2005 and pre-date the current SNP administration.

Extra content: 10 years of the Gaelic Act.