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Improving police scrutiny

Published: 21 Sep 2015 00:01
Part of:
Law and order

Giving communities more say on policing priorities.

A conference to improve the scrutiny of local policing and ensure communities and councils have a greater say in their local policing priorities will take place in Edinburgh this week.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the summit as part of a series of measures to improve accountability and scrutiny in policing across Scotland.

Around 80 attendees from local government, Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland will meet this Wednesday (23rd September) to hear how local engagement is working from those directly involved and explore options for strengthening current arrangements..

The summit will be chaired by former CoSLA leader Pat Watters, the current Chair of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Board.

It comes in the same month that Scottish Government announced a range of measures being taken to improve the way Police Scotland is held to account, including asking the new Chair of the Scottish Police Authority to undertake a review of governance.

The Scottish Government will also launch a discussion on what people across Scotland think should feature in national policing priorities.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

"There is no doubt that, since the launch of a single service in 2013, policing in Scotland has faced greater levels of political, public and media scrutiny than ever before. The Scottish Police Authority holds Police Scotland to account, with oversight from HMICS, the PIRC and Audit Scotland. Parliament, the Scottish public and the media all have an important role to play, and I want to explore what more can be done to ensure our police are best serving the communities in which we live.

"This summit will give everyone involved in local scrutiny the opportunity to get together, look at ways of further improving how it works and consider how to move forward. Local scrutiny boards have a crucial role to play in shaping local policing in their area, and ensuring performance is effective.

"It is important that everyone has a say in this, and also that we keep the ethos of local policing at the forefront of our mind. While a more consistent model of policing has ended the previous postcode lottery of access to specialist support, local policing must remain distinctive and reflect local priorities.

"The fundamentals of policing are sound. Despite challenges, our police continue to do an excellent job - crime is at a 41 year low and violent crime is at its lowest level since 1974. These latest statistics were published only two weeks ago and show once again that effective policing is continuing to have a positive impact on Scotland communities.

"Policing must be community focused above all else. It must be shaped and delivered to meet local needs and be carried out with the support – and consent – of all communities in Scotland. As we move forward, I want local police scrutiny committees to inform, develop and direct how Police Scotland works to keep our communities safe."

Notes to editors

Earlier this month, the First Minister announced that the Chief Constable and his senior officers will undertake a new programme of scrutiny sessions to provide more direct local accountability for the performance of policing in local areas.

Local communities are also going to have their say on how national policing policies are impacting on local areas, and suggest ways they can be tailored to local needs and circumstances and the new Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, Andrew Flanagan, is also preparing to begin a review of police governance.