HUMZA Yousaf has praised the outgoing Chief Constable’s admission that Police Scotland is institutionally racist, misogynist and discriminatory. 

The First Minister said that as a person of colour who had been stopped by police more than a dozen times as a young adult, Sir Iain Livingstone’s comments were “monumental” and “historic”. 

On Thursday morning, in his final appearance in front of the Scottish Police Authority’s board, Sir Iain said he had “great confidence in the character and values” of his officers and staff.

"However, it is right for me, 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 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 in society.

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The remarks - which came part way through a public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh, a black man who died after coming into contact with police in Fife in 2015 - were raised by Douglas Ross in Holyrood. 

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Mr Yousaf said: “There is no doubt that institutional racism exists in our society, and I want to take a moment just to say as a person of colour the statement from the chief constable is monumental, historic.

“I remember raising issues around racism in the police force, Strathclyde Police as it was back then, when I was stopped and searched over a dozen times as young boy, whether it was in my car, walking with my friends in the streets, in airports.

“So the acknowledgment from the chief constable is very welcome indeed.”

Mr Yousaf stressed Sir Iain’s comments are not an “inference on individual police officers, who we know put themselves in harm’s way to protect us day in and day out”.

The First Minister added that acknowledging the problems of institutional racism and institutional misogyny within the force is the “first step that is required in order to then dismantle those institutional and structural barriers that exist”.

He said he is “committed to working with Police Scotland” on these issues.

Speaking to journalists after FMQs, Mr Yousaf said the remarks were significant and a vindication of those who had raised concerns about racial profiling and stop and search. 

"I felt quite emotional as I was listening to the Chief Constable as he was making that statement.

“It means a lot. I mentioned in the chamber, I can think of well over a dozen times when I was stopped and searched as a young teenager, walking the streets with my friends, in airports, getting stopped and searched in the car, asked why I was driving round at nighttime in a car.”

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During the session, Mr Ross, whose wife Krystle is a serving police officer, called for urgent action to “overhaul how Police Scotland handles legitimate complaints from within the force”.

He said the current system was “not fit for purpose.” 

Mr Ross said: “Nobody should feel fear when raising concerns. That’s clearly unacceptable.

“Officers should be able to raise legitimate issues without suffering any consequences.”

Mr Yousaf said he would look at the issue. But he said as much as fixing the process should be a priority, so too should fixing the culture.

“That is why the chief constable’s statement was so monumental, because it is demonstrating from the very, very top of the organisation that culture simply is not acceptable”.