A new senior leadership team of Police Scotland has no members from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background more than a year after its former chief said the force was "institutionally racist".

Sir Iain Livingstone made his dramatic statement at the final meeting he attended of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) in May 2023. 

He said prejudice and bad behaviour within the force was "rightly of great concern" and that acknowledging the issues existed was vital for real change to happen.

He gave his statement after a review uncovered first-hand accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia by serving officers and also heard about cases where staff had been "punished" for raising concerns.

READ MORE: Police Scotland chief admits force ‘is institutionally racist and discriminatory’

Jo Farrell restated Sir Iain's position when she succeeded him as chief constable in October.

However, despite the public acknowledgement of an structural issue of racism a year ago none of the 15 members of the force's high command featured on the force's website are members of a BAME community. 

Serving officers Stuart Houston, Catriona Paton and Mark Sutherland - are due to take up promotions to assistant chief constable next Monday.  None of them come from a BAME background.

Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who has campaigned on the issue of racism in the police, is currently acting for the family of Sheku Bayoh in a public inquiry into his death in police custody in May 2015.

READ MORE: Rank and file anger over Chief Constable's 'institutional racism'

Mr Anwar told The Herald: "It’s very much business as usual, and I suspect an attempt to turn the clock back post Iain Livingstone. 

"Police Scotland can no longer claim they do not have minority officers of calibre - but institutional racism permeates every part of the organisation, which means those officers of colour know that no matter how hard they try, they are prevented from reaching the higher echelons of the executive. 

The Herald: Sheku BayohSheku Bayoh died in police custody in Scotland in 2015. 

"How many years should they be allowed to keep failing on the issue of race? How many have to die? How many officers have to be demotivated and devalued?" 

READ MORE: Police Scotland: New boss agrees ‘force is discriminatory’

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said: “At every level, people from BAME backgrounds are still woefully underrepresented in Police Scotland.

“Not only does this undermine a sense of a fair and equal workplace, it also creates barriers between the police and the communities in which they work.

 “It is glaringly apparent that ministers and Police Scotland must do more to increase diversity in policing. Staff surveys should also be undertaken regularly so that the service can identify issues early on and root out discriminatory practices and behaviours.”

At a meeting of the SPA on May 23, the chief constable outlined her commitment to building an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory service which delivers for all communities.

Speaking ahead of the first year since Police Scotland acknowledged institutional racism, sexism and discrimination, Ms Farrell outlined work to support effective leadership and enhance equality education and focus on our values and standards.

The chief constable said: "People from all communities must know that when we talk about keeping people safe, we mean them. All communities must feel able to speak to the police, to report a crime or to share information. I want people from all communities to see policing as a potential career.

"Our Policing Together programme drives action for meaningful change across four strategic pillars - leadership; training; professionalism and prevention and communications.

"Injustice and discrimination have deep roots in history and our work to address it requires commitment, focus, leadership and persistence. 

"Our success will be measured by improved experiences of our officers and staff and the public we serve and we are reporting on Policing Together performance through the Authority twice yearly."

Asked to comment on why none of the force's executive team came from a BAME background a spokeswoman for the SPA told The Herald: "Senior officer appointments are part of a robust selection and recruitment process."

Sir Iain's statement last year is believed to be the first of its kind by a police chief and followed controversy about policing culture in the UK.

But he stressed that his admission of institutional discrimination did not mean that individual officers and staff were racist or sexist and expressed pride and confidence in their work.

Speaking at a meeting of the SPA, Sir Iain said: "It is the right thing for me to do, as chief constable, to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist.

"Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory. Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist in our organisation is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service.

"It is also critical to our determination to lead wider change and support wider change in society."
In her first day in the job last October, Ms Farrell backed the statement made by Sir Iain saying it was a "difficult message", but she was determined to drive forward "an anti-discriminatory agenda."

In a statement issued after she was sworn in, the chief constable said: "Having considered Sir Iain's reasons, I agree Police Scotland is institutionally discriminatory.

"I know the acknowledgment of institutional discrimination is a difficult message for many dedicated and honourable officers and staff.

"People with different backgrounds or experiences, including our officers and staff, have not always received the service that is their right.

"The onus is on us to challenge bad behaviour and prejudice, address gaps and eradicate bias, known or unwitting, at every level."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The recruitment of Senior Police Officers is a matter for the Scottish Police Authority.

“The Scottish Government commended the bold statement from former Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone in May 2023 when he acknowledged that Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory, a statement endorsed by new Chief Constable Jo Farrell.

“We look to Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority to ensure that our police service is truly diverse with a workforce reflective of the communities it serves.”