New head of Scottish Police Authority insists policing is not in crisis

first_imgThe new head of the Scottish Police Authority has admitted that the country’s police service has experienced a “bumpy ride” in the last few years but denied that it was “in crisis”.Susan Deacon, who becomes chairman of the body that oversees the workings of Police Scotland on Monday, said she wanted to drive change in the force and improve public and political trust in policing.The force and the SPA have been caught in a series of very public controversies, including resignations, suspensions and call centre failures, with allegations of bullying and gross misconduct against senior officers.Ms Deacon was speaking as Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, the acting head of the national force, called for less political interference and said policing should be an “apolitical public service”He said it made it difficult for officers if policing was “moved around as a political issue”, and he would like to see it taken out of the constant political debate.Mr Livingstone postponed his planned retirement to take over at the head of Police Scotland in September, after Phil Gormley, the Chief Constable, took special leave to allow allegations of bullying to be investigated.More recently, Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins and three other senior officers were suspended as part of a probe into alleged criminal and misconduct allegations, which also resulted in two officers being placed on restricted duties. The Scottish Police Federation claims that Mr Higgins and his colleagues should not have been suspended by the SPA, under Ms Deacon’s predecessor, Andrew Flanagan, who quit following concerns over governance and transparency and criticism of his leadership.Meanwhile, Mr Livingstone told Scotland on Sunday: “It would be helpful if issues around government policy and the political debate that goes on in Scotland, if policing wasn’t part of that.”That’s what at times makes it difficult for senior officers and operational officers and staff, if policing gets moved around as a political issue. Core policing in its essence is apolitical.”He agreed that the Scottish Parliament should have an interest in armed policing, but said the practice of armed officers in Scotland was almost identical to the practice in England and Wales, and he could not remember “the last time there was a debate on armed policing in Westminster”. Susan Deacon after receiving a CBE at the Palace of Holyroodhouse this summerCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. He is understood to have asked the SPA to be granted special leave – in the same way as Mr Gormley – but was refused and suspended instead.Meanwhile, the Sunday Mail said two of the claims – that he swore at work and failed to discipline a colleague who allegedly used a police rucksack in his leisure time – were previously looked into.They were allegedly raised by a former boyfriend of a female police sergeant, after the man’s firearms licence was revoked over a domestic abuse complaint.The paper said the new compliant alleged that the female officer had “inappropriate relationships” with two other officers from the firearms unit, Supt Kirk Kinnell, and Chief Insp Bob Glass, who have also been suspended with their boss Mr Higgins. The officers deny any wrongdoing.Ms Deacon said she could not comment on the current investigations, but in her new role would be looking “very, very carefully at the cases that are live”.She said: “I have to take issue with the notion that our police service itself is in crisis. Policing is continuing in Scotland. phil gormleycenter_img “I, for one, do not doubt for a minute the challenges that lie ahead both in terms of taking forward and developing our police service, but also in making sure there is an SPA that the public, politicians and others can have trust and confidence in. From tomorrow, that’s my job, to make improvements in that area.” Chief Constable Phil Gormley is facing claims of bullyingCredit:PA It has been claimed that police investigated one of the main allegations against Mr Higgins and dismissed it more than a year ago. susan deaconlast_img read more