Feedback on Individual Priorities
35. As noted above, a large number of respondents recognised the inter-connectedness of the Priorities and offered comments which related to a number of Priorities. For the purpose of presenting user-friendly analysis, the sections below generally discuss each theme raised by respondents under the Priority to which it appears to most closely relate. However, it is advised that readers consider the analysis of the consultation as a whole to allow a broader understanding of the points raised by respondents, rather than focussing on any one Priority in isolation.
Draft Priority: Ensure that the needs of communities are understood and reflected in the planning and delivery of policing.
36. As discussed in the overall summary of responses, the "Localism" Priority was widely welcomed, with a number of respondents supporting the indication that meeting local needs and providing a service which is responsive to local circumstances is not in conflict with providing a consistent service on a nationwide basis. Local authorities and community councils were amongst the respondents who made this point most prominently, with some organisations representing rural areas of Scotland in particular highlighting the importance of policing approaches taking into account localised sensitivities, priorities and unique circumstances.
37. Whilst the general concept behind the "Localism" Priority (understanding and responding to the needs of communities) was supported, a common theme emerging in responses focused on the need for the Priority to fully recognise that communities can exist on a non-geographical basis too. Several respondents pointed out the importance of being aware of the needs and wishes of 'communities of interest' (including ethnic communities, but also groups such as young people, looked after children, and other groups representing people with particular protected characteristics) which can exist within and across typical geographical boundaries.
38. Whilst the Priority does capture some of this in its draft form, some respondents nevertheless believed that the use of the word 'localism' as well as other 'place-based' phrases such as 'local communities' and the explicit mention of groups such as CPPs might support an assumption that the predominant focus of the Priority is on 'neighbourhoods'. A small number of respondents thought that this could actually lead to further marginalisation of groups who may be identified as a minority in any one area, but through shared characteristics or experiences represent a larger group across the country.
39. Other comments made in respect of "Localism" highlighted a need for local policing to be able work flexibly from national initiatives or approaches (where appropriate) to respond to community priorities and local circumstances.
40. Whilst such matters are not intended to be addressed directly through the Strategic Police Priorities, a range of respondents (including a number of councils and other local groups) suggested that local authority scrutiny committees and procedures required more influence over decision-making at a local and national level, rather than simply scrutinising decisions which had already been taken. Again although it is not within the scope of the Priorities, other comments suggested that local police commanders could be given more autonomy to take decisions at local level, with greater control over finances and local resources. These comments relate to the view expressed by a range of respondents that 'what works' to deliver efficient effective services can vary depending on the context and who is receiving or making use of a service.
41. At the same time, it was recognised that local approaches should also take on board successful measures from other localities and that local practice was more about tailoring best practice and broad agendas at a national level to suit local needs. To support this, respondents highlighted a need to have good information and knowledge sharing at a local level, and that, in order for this to happen, engagement between the police, the community and other organisations has to be on-going. To facilitate this, respondents pointed out the need for Police Scotland to be accessible. For some this meant face-to-face interaction, local police stations and a visible police presence, whilst others mentioned ensuring that the police understood the diverse needs of communities and could relate to and communicate effectively with different types of individuals and groups within those communities (including ethnic and religious minorities, children and young people with vulnerable backgrounds, and disabled people).
Draft Priority: Ensure the police service works to prevent crime and reduce fear of crime through partnership, communication, education, and innovation, placing particular focus on the need to address inequalities within and between communities.
42. Feedback on the "Prevention" Priority was generally positive, with many respondents noting its links to other aspects of government policy and local and national initiatives.
43. Respondents also highlighted the relationship between "Prevention" and the other draft Priorities, specifically noting the importance of partnership working and highlighting the role of a responsive, community focused police service in delivering national ambitions around early intervention and prevention. Some respondents highlighted that to have a police service which supports this agenda would require a full understanding of the demands required of the police, including in relation to issues and vulnerabilities which can affect both victims and offenders, for example mental health issues and deprivation. On a similar note, responses from some interest groups highlighted the importance of ensuring that all services to which victims, witnesses and offenders are entitled to should be made available, providing individuals and communities with appropriate levels and types of support.
44. In addition, a range of respondents highlighted that the role of the police in both adult and child protection (and related services) should be reflected in the Priorities, suggesting that there should be a clear focus on prevention of harm as well as crime.
45. Some interest groups who responded to the consultation indicated that a preventative service needs to successfully and robustly tackle "low-level" incidents of crime before they escalate. Whilst this is primarily an operational issue, several did link experiences of engaging with the police on such matters to their overall confidence in the police and the potential for their future engagement with the service.
46. Finally, it was suggested by one respondent that the current wording of the draft Priority could inadvertently imply that some minority and other protected groups currently do not receive an appropriate level of service. It was suggested by another respondent that the reference to young people and diversionary tactics may unintentionally suggest that young people are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour.
Draft Priority: Focus policing on keeping people safe by tackling crime and responding to and investigating incidents effectively and efficiently.
47. As mentioned in the Overall Summary, "Response" was considered a key Priority for a number of respondents - particularly respondents representing rural areas who were keen to express a desire for a consistent service across the country. Respondents also widely recognised that the ability of the police to respond effectively and efficiently to incidents was determined by the resources available.
48. Recognising that an effective response to an incident can help to build confidence in the police, a number of respondents expressed a desire to ensure that all individuals reporting an incident received appropriate feedback about how their report had been handled and investigated. They commented that this would help with the prevention agenda and would also maintain the trust of individuals and community groups.
49. Several respondents highlighted the links between "Response" and "Localism", noting that the police response to an incident should take into account local circumstances and priorities. In this sense, it was claimed that the police should ideally be responsive to communities, as well as responding to incidents.
50. In terms of the specific language of the Priority, one respondent highlighted that they believe the police have a duty to respond to patterns of behaviour which may indicate criminal activity as well as incidents and that the wording of the Priority could be potentially updated to reflect this.
51. Finally, a number of organisations from rural areas suggested that the Priority should more prominently recognise the role of the police in wider emergency situations.
Draft Priority: Ensure that the police service works collaboratively with partners at both a local and national level to deliver better outcomes for people in Scotland.
52. Alongside "Localism" and "Prevention", "Collaborative Working" was one of the most widely appreciated Priorities, with a large number of respondents explaining that partnership working would be crucial if the police were to adequately deliver against the other Priorities. As previously mentioned, respondents indicated that collaborative working requires genuine two-way engagement with individuals, communities and other organisations in order to recognise where resources and approaches could be appropriately shared and aligned to deliver maximum impact.
53. Building on this point, some respondents suggested that there should be clearer recognition from Police Scotland and other partners of the role each organisation plays in tackling social problems. Some also believed that there is a need to have shared measures of success as well as shared delivery practices. As with the Priorities in general, respondents commonly recognised that facilitating collaborative working would both require and enable efficient use of resources. Others noted that effective partnership working would depend upon the police service being willing to allocate resources and invest in areas of service delivery which reflect the priorities, needs and ambitions of partner organisations and local communities.
54. Whilst the need to ensure that effective partnerships are built with community groups and third sector organisations across Scotland was commonly raised, a handful of respondents also cited the need to engage with police services in the rest of the UK and across Europe where appropriate, and felt this could also be recognised in the Priority.
55. Other points focused on the implementation of this Priority, with respondents identifying the ways in which collaboration could go beyond aligned service delivery to include things such as: drawing upon external expertise to help improve the knowledge and skills of officers on issues like violence against women and honour-based violence; multi-agency training programmes; co-located services; and the sharing of other aspects of service delivery beyond frontline services (for instance, analytical collaboration).
Draft Priority: Maintain public confidence in policing and inspire trust by being transparent, accountable and acting with integrity, fairness and respect.
56. "Accountability" was considered to be an important Priority by a wide range of respondents and was seen as being crucial to ensuring the other Priorities could be effectively enacted. Respondents highlighted a need for the police service to be accountable locally as well as nationally.
57. Whilst such matters are not intended to be addressed directly through the Strategic Police Priorities, several respondents (including some local authorities and other local groups) suggested that the role of local scrutiny committees could be expanded and a few also suggested that the relationship between the SPA and local authorities/local scrutiny committees could be enhanced. A couple of respondents flagged the need for more representation of minority groups on scrutiny committees to ensure diverse needs were being met, although this is a matter for each local authority to consider.
58. Again, although not for direct inclusion in the Strategic Police Priorities, several respondents highlighted the need for robust data to be collected and published which would allow the performance of the police to be scrutinised, not least to demonstrate that the Priorities themselves are being implemented effectively.
59. As mentioned in the Overall Summary section, a range of respondents highlighted that a locally engaged and responsive service which reflected the needs and priorities of communities would enhance the accountability of the police at a local level.
60. Considering the wording of the draft Priority, one respondent suggested that the text could be revised to reflect the view that the themes of transparency and accountability are perhaps more strategic in nature, whilst acting with integrity, fairness and respect are potentially more operational matters. Another respondent also highlighted reservations with implying that confidence in the police is or should be founded upon a transparent and accountable service, rather than one which is effective, although there was an acceptance that those issues are also of importance.
Draft Priority: Ensure the police service is able to take advantage of new opportunities and meet emerging threats and challenges.
61. Most respondents who provided comments on "Adaptability" thought it was important for Police Scotland to tackle new and emerging threats effectively and recognised that this would require a flexible approach to policing. A number of respondents representing local areas and community groups highlighted the need to ensure that changes in approach were fully considered in order to understand what impact, if any, would be felt by delivery partners, communities and other associated organisations. For example, one respondent cited that different approaches from the police could increase or decrease the nature and level of support services required by victims, offenders and communities.
62. Others said that whilst there had to be some degree of innovation and flexibility (and that this had to be facilitated at local, regional and national level as appropriate), it was important for the police service to continue to do what it does well rather than focusing too heavily on procedural matters. Some made a direct link between "Adaptability" and "Localism", suggesting that the police had to be willing to explore new ways of working where this was in the interests of (and at the request of) communities. Partnership working and engagement would be key in this regard.
63. Picking up on the point made in the consultation document about the need for the police to have the right skills to tackle issues in future, some respondents highlighted that "Adaptability" should explicitly mention the need for the workforce to have access to appropriate and on-going professional and personal developmental training. It was claimed that this would ensure officers had up-to-date knowledge and skills and would also help to maintain a motivated workforce and so an effective service. This is more of a specific operational matter and so would likely not directly feature in the Strategic Police Priorities.
64. Similarly, a few respondents suggested there was a need for the Priorities to specifically mention operational issues like terrorism and cyber-crime, and highlighted the need for partnership working in order to tackle such problems. Again, this is likely outwith the scope of the Priorities.