Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon is backing a comprehensive review of policing in Scotland.
Ms McMahon is also calling on Falkirk West MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson to apologise to police officers who are putting their personal safety on the line to keep people safe in the face of brutal budget cuts from the Scottish Government.
This week Scottish Labour launched the Pearson Review, to be undertaken by Scottish Labour justice spokesperson Graeme Pearson.
Mr Pearson, a former Head of Crime and Counter Terrorism at Strathclyde Police before his appointment as Director General of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency will travel the country speaking to rank and file officers, civilian staff, community groups, victim support staff and others as part of a wide-ranging review of policing in Scotland.
The review will consider:
- Local accountability
- The relationship between Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Government ministers
Since the creation of the single force in 2013 Police Scotland has faced a series of scandals and controversies – including the M9 car crash, cuts to civilian staff and services, a lack of transparency over stop and search and armed officers.
Last year, Police Scotland agreed to merge control rooms across Scotland which resulted in the closure of the Stirling facility. This has meant that residents in Falkirk now have to speak with a call handler working out of Bilston in Edinburgh with no local knowledge.
Police Scotland also closed eight police stations across Lanarkshire and dramatically reduced the public opening hours in several other stations.
Last week Chief Constable Sir Stephen House announced he will be stepping down before the end of the year.
Ms McMahon also challenged Mr Matheson to say whether or not he backs the £500,000 pay off received by outgoing Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, at a time when the SNP Government have cut local police services.
Central Scotland Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon said:
“Police officers put their personal safety on the line every single day to keep people safe, but they are working under immense pressure.
“Instead of doing the job they trained for, too many are having to fill back office functions because of SNP Government cuts.
“In Falkirk we have seen local residents having to speak with call handlers working in Edinburgh with no local knowledge after the closure of the Stirling control room, one of six axed by Stephen House. Meanwhile in Lanarkshire, we have seen several of our police stations closed and a dramatic reduction in the operating hours of many others in an attempt to cut costs.
“Scottish Labour supported the introduction of the single police force back in 2013 in the hope it would share best practice and boost accountability but something has gone badly wrong with its implementation. The resignation of Sir Stephen House was the right thing to do but the problems won’t follow him out the exit door.
“Policing in Scotland needs a shake-up. We need to get back to the kind of community policing that made Scotland the envy of the world at one time, the kind of people that people in Falkirk can trust.
“Michael Matheson needs to take responsibility for what has gone wrong on his watch and sort out the mess his government have made of Scotland’s once world class reputation for policing. Officers and staff in the police deserve better.”
Interested parties can make submissions to the Pearson Review at http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/s/the-pearson-review or on firstname.lastname@example.org