I Supported the Idea of a Single Force but Did Not Realise, in Reality, They Would Make It Up as They Went along; GRAEME PEARSON ON POLICE SCOTLAND Graeme Pearson / Former Police Chief and Director of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agencyturned Labour MSP

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), August 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

I Supported the Idea of a Single Force but Did Not Realise, in Reality, They Would Make It Up as They Went along; GRAEME PEARSON ON POLICE SCOTLAND Graeme Pearson / Former Police Chief and Director of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agencyturned Labour MSP


Byline: Graeme Pearson

The funerals of John Yuill and Lamara Bell last week revealed the pain and shock still felt by the couple's friends and families.

They also marked a point of significant pressure for those in charge of Police Scotland, who failed them so badly.

That is the chief constable Sir Stephen House, the convener of the Scottish Police Authority Vic Emery and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson.

After the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody and the previous controversies endured by the single force since Scotland's eight forces were merged, public confidence in those in charge has undoubtedly been shaken.

Still, for four years now, suggestions to improve the reform of our police service have been rejected.

Instead, they have tried to misrepresent BEAT COP Pearson considered criticisms of strategy and policy - whether around the arming of police on routine patrol or stop-and-search targets - into an attack on frontline officers while ignoring the many requests to see a business plan or balance sheet for these reforms.

At the launch of Police Scotland, I observed the success of the force initially would rely on the efforts of constables, their supervisors and staff who would continue to serve the public.

For those in command, success would only be delivered in years to come when systems and structures were created enabling, indeed supporting, the front line to carry out their vital duties.

My comments were clearly viewed as grudging and smallminded by those in charge of the change and certainly April 1 - yes, really - came and went without society collapsing.

But behind that "success", the evidence was already gathering, indicating management activity but little in the way of genuine planning and organisation.

Yes, we got new national units for domestic violence, terrorism and organised crime alongside a roads unit and a football unit. But when it came to delivering the bread-and-butter services of call centres and manned stations, we found out too little, too late.

Meaningless consultations were launched as control rooms closed anyway.

A single IT system remained undelivered while redundancies moved ahead with pace.

Superintendents reported a survey in which 37 per cent of members identified a culture of bullying while 85 per cent believed damaging cliques existed at the top of Police Scotland.

Their warnings were ignored by those in charge, who pushed ahead with, what some may consider, reckless abandon, ignoring the gathering clamour of alarm bells.

If superintendents felt this way and got little response, what about those of lower ranks? In truth, we don't know, because a wider staff survey has been delayed for more than a year for one reason or another, none of them entirely convincing. …

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