Police Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Poileas Alba; Scots: Polis Scotland) – legally named the Police Service of Scotland – is the national police force of Scotland. It was formed in 2013 with the merger of eight regional police forces in Scotland, as well as the specialist services of the Scottish Police Services Authority, including the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. Although not formally absorbing it, the merger also resulted in the winding up of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
Poileas Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
|Motto||Semper Vigilo[n 1] |
Keeping People Safe
|Formed||1 April 2013|
|Volunteers||Approx 500 Special Constables (2019) and more than 1,000 Youth Volunteers|
|Annual budget||£1.065 billion (2018/19)|
|Legal personality||Police force|
|Police Scotland's jurisdiction|
|Size||30,414 sq mi (78,772 km2)|
|Population||5,438,100 (Mid 2018)|
|Governing body||Scottish Government|
|Overviewed by Police authority||Scottish Police Authority|
|Police Officers||17,241 Full-time Officers |
approx 500 Special Constables, up to 24 Youth Volunteers
|Others||5,600 police staff|
|Cabinet Secretary responsible|
|Airbases||Glasgow City Heliport|
|Helicopters||1 (1 reserve) (Eurocopter EC135)|
Police Scotland is the second-largest police force in the United Kingdom (after the Metropolitan Police Service) in terms of officer numbers, and by far the largest territorial police force in terms of its geographic area of responsibility. The Chief Constable is answerable to the Scottish Police Authority, and the force is inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.
Scotland is also policed by the Ministry of Defence Police, British Transport Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary within their respective jurisdictions. Both the Metropolitan Police and National Crime Agency also have some jurisdiction in Scotland. In regards to the Metropolitan Police this is due to their national responsibilities in regards to the protection of the Royal Family and other protected persons, such as the Prime Minister.
- 1 History
- 2 Organisation
- 2.1 Executive Team
- 2.2 Ranks
- 2.3 Local policing
- 2.4 Specialist Crime Division
- 2.5 Licensing and Violence Reduction Division
- 2.6 Operational Support Division
- 2.7 Special Constabulary
- 3 Chief Constables
- 4 Uniform and equipment
- 5 Police 101
- 6 Transport policing
- 7 Controversy
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Prior to mergerEdit
After a consultation process, the Scottish Government confirmed on 8 September 2011 that a single police service would be created in Scotland. The Scottish Government stated that "reform will safeguard frontline policing in communities by creating designated local senior officers for every council area with a statutory duty to work with councils to shape local services. Establishing a single service aims to ensure more equal access to national and specialist services and expertise such as major investigation teams and firearms teams, whenever and wherever they are needed." The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill was published in January 2012 and was approved on 27 June 2012 after scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament. The Bill received Royal Assent as the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012. In September 2012, Chief Constable Stephen House of Strathclyde Police was announced as the future first Chief Constable of Police Scotland. He was sworn into the post on 1 October 2012. The first chair of the Scottish Police Authority, Vic Emery (then the convener of the Scottish Police Services Authority), was appointed in August 2012.
As the date of formation approached, it was widely reported that the new Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority were in disagreement over the control of backroom staff.
In February 2013 it came to light that the previously announced logo for Police Scotland could not be used as the Force had failed to seek approval from the Court of the Lord Lyon. This new symbol, a stylised thistle upon a Scottish saltire shield, failed to meet the longstanding heraldic rules of the Lyon Court and was thus discarded. A permanent logo was not approved in time for 1 April 2013 creation of Police Scotland, but the pre-2013 crowned thistle emblem was finally (re)introduced in July 2013. This emblem was originally designed for the former Dumfries Constabulary by Robert Dickie Cairns (1866–1944), an art teacher at Dumfries Academy. With minor artistic variations, it was the same logo used by all regional Scottish police forces before 1 April 2013.
Police Scotland officially came into being on 1 April 2013 under the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, merging the following law enforcement agencies:
- Central Scotland Police
- Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary
- Fife Constabulary
- Grampian Police
- Lothian and Borders Police
- Northern Constabulary
- Scottish Police Services Authority, including the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency
- Strathclyde Police
- Tayside Police
In June 2014, a leaked Police Scotland internal email to police managers in Dunfermline ordered a substantial increase in "stop and search" activities and warned any police officers not meeting the higher targets would be subjected to a performance development review. Police Scotland has previously denied setting stop and search performance targets for individual officers. The next month, it was revealed that between April and December 2013, Police Scotland's officers stopped and searched members of the Scottish public at a rate of 979.6 per 10,000 people, a rate was three times higher than that of the Metropolitan Police and nine times higher than that of the New York Police Department. It was also revealed that the Scottish Police Authority, the body tasked with overseeing Police Scotland, had removed criticism of Police Scotland's use of "stop and search" powers from a report it had commissioned. Also removed from the report were calls for a review of stop and search on children and for clarification of the policy's primary aim.
In October 2013, Police Scotland announced proposals to close 65 out of 215 police station public counters and reduce opening hours at others. Police Scotland cited a drop in the number of people visiting public counters and the development of new ways for the public to contact the police, including the 101 telephone number and contact points which connect callers at police stations directly to officers, as reasons for the proposed closures. The plans were condemned by some opposition MSPs. In November 2016, it emerged that 58 further stations could close as part of an estates review.
In 2014, the Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh was opened. This £73m secure facility houses several specialist investigative and analytical departments of the police including forensic services, and is also the base for other law enforcement-related agencies such as the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency. Police Scotland was responsible for the security of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In 2015, the former Strathclyde Police headquarters in Pitt Street, central Glasgow were closed and the officers based there transferred to a new £24million office in the Dalmarnock district of the city (although some operational functions, such as the control room for Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, moved to the regional communications facility in Govan).
In October 2013, it was announced that the number of police control rooms and call handling service centres in Scotland was under review, with the possibility of seven out of ten such offices closing. Control rooms considered for closure included Dumfries, Aberdeen and Inverness; the Dumfries control room closed in May 2014, with the workload absorbed by existing facilities in Glasgow and Motherwell. The facilities in Glenrothes and Stirling soon followed, with all their calls and dispatching moved to a single site for the east of Scotland at Bilston, Midlothian.
Closures in Aberdeen and Inverness (with control functionality moving to Dundee and call handling across the three sites in the Central Belt) were delayed until 2017 as a result of a HMICS review of the service, following a July 2015 incident in which two persons died after their vehicle had crashed off the M9 motorway; the matter had been reported to the police just after the crash but was not investigated further at the time as the call was not properly logged onto the computer systems due to inefficient interim procedures in place following the recent restructuring in the eastern region.
The Aberdeen control room and service centre closed in March 2017 and Inverness followed in February 2018 with staff at the latter location invited to re-train in a dedicated unit performing criminal record checks and other enquiries via the PNC and related databases; this unit was to share work with an existing department in Govan, a proposal which local council leaders claimed was not what was originally presented to them during the consultation process. That department was formally launched in May 2018.
- Chief Constable: Iain Livingstone
- Deputy Chief Constable (Professionalism): Fiona Taylor
- Deputy Chief Constable (Local Policing): Will Kerr
- Deputy Chief Constable (Crime and Operational Support): Johnny Gwynne
- Deputy Chief Officer (Corporate Services, Strategy and Change): David Page
- Assistant Chief Constable (Local Policing – East & Criminal Justice): Paul Anderson
- Assistant Chief Constable (Local Policing – West): Bernard Higgins
- Assistant Chief Constable (Local Policing – North): John Hawkins
- Assistant Chief Constable (Specialist Crime & Intelligence): Steve Johnson
- Assistant Chief Constable (Operational and Specialist Support): Mark Williams
- Assistant Chief Constable (Strategy & Innovation): Malcolm Graham
- Assistant Chief Constable (Crime and Public Protection): Gillian McDonald
- Assistant Chief Constable (Professionalism and Assurance): Alan Speirs
- Assistant Chief Constable (Operational Change and Resilience): Angela McLaren
- Director of ICT: Martin Low (Interim Director following resignation of Martin Leven)
- Director of People and Development: Jude Helliker
- Chief Financial Officer: James Gray
All force executive officers are currently based at Tulliallan Castle in Kincardine, Fife or Stirling Randolphfield. The Assistant Chief Constables' salary depends on their previous experience and would normally fall between £90,000 and £106,000 a year. In 2014, Executive officers of the force were awarded a £10,000-a-year pay rise.
Police Scotland uses the same rank structure and insignia as other police forces in the United Kingdom. The ranks of Constable, Sergeant and Inspector can be prefixed with the term "Police", which leads to the abbreviations of "PC", and, more rarely, "PS" and "PI". Normally, however, the "Police" is omitted as it is unnecessary, except for the abbreviations – especially PC. Detective officers of the ranks Constable to Chief Superintendent have their ranks prefixed with the term "Detective", e.g. Detective Constable (abbreviated "DC") and Detective Superintendent (abbreviated Det Supt).
|Deputy Chief Constable||DCC||£174,741|
|Assistant Chief Constable||ACC||£118,485|
Local policing in Scotland is overseen by a Deputy Chief Constable. The country is divided geographically into 3 regions – North, East and West, each headed by an Assistant Chief Constable. There are 13 Divisions, each covering one or more local authority areas and headed by a Chief Superintendent. All divisional commanders are "people who came up through the ranks in that part of the country". Divisions are further split into Area Commands under Chief Inspectors. These are then managed by Ward mirroring the 353 Wards used in local authority elections; every ward in Scotland has its own local policing team (response) and problem solving team (community).
|Regional Resources||1,512||ACC Bernard Higgins|
|Argyll & West Dunbartonshire||L Division||566||C/Supt John Paterson|
|Ayrshire||U Division||826||C/Supt Mark Hargreaves|
|Dumfries & Galloway||V Division||382||C/Supt Linda Jones|
|Greater Glasgow||G Division||2,540||C/Supt Hazel Hendren|
|Lanarkshire||Q Division||1,409||C/Supt Alan Waddell|
|Renfrewshire & Inverclyde||K Division||628||C/Supt Alan Murray|
|Regional Resources||982||ACC Kenny MacDonald|
|Edinburgh||E Division||1,109||C/Supt Sean Scott|
|Fife||P Division||802||C/Supt Derek McEwan|
|Forth Valley||C Division||635||C/Supt Thom McLaughlin|
|Lothians & Scottish Borders||J Division||919||C/Supt John McKenzie|
|Regional Resources||662||ACC John Hawkins|
|Highland & Islands||N Division||682||C/Supt George MacDonald|
|North East||A Division||1,144||C/Supt Campbell Thomson|
|Tayside||D Division||957||C/Supt Andrew Todd|
|Total Resources (West, East and North Commands plus National)|
- Examples of National Resources include:- Specialist Crime Division: National Intelligence Bureau, Homicide Governance and Review, Prison Intelligence Unit, Human Trafficking Unit, National Rape Investigation, National Rape Review, Fugitive Unit and Scottish Protected Persons Unit, International Unit, HOLMES, Safer Communities Citizen Focus, Preventions and Interventions, and Strategic Partnerships. Operational Support: Scottish Police Information and Coordination Centre, Intelligence, Specialist Operations Training, Air Support, Dive/Marine Unit, Football Co-ordination Unit, Mounted Unit, Mountain Rescue, Motorcycle Unit. Custody: Area Command, Support
- Examples of Regional Resources include:- Specialist Crime Division: Major Investigation Teams, Forensic Gateways, E – Crime, Financial Investigations, Serious and Organised Crime Units, Counter Terrorism Units, Offender Management, Border Policing Command, Technical Support Unit and Interventions. Operational Support: Road Policing Units, Event and Emergency Planning, VIP Planning, Armed Policing Training, Road Policing Management & Policy, Armed Policing, Dogs, Trunk Roads Policing Group and Operational Support Units. Custody: Regional Custody Teams. Contact, Command and Control: Area Control Rooms and Service Centres
- Local police officer resources are the core complement of officers under the direction of the Local Commander and include community policing, response policing and divisional road policing teams. Also included in the local resource figures are officers within the divisional Criminal Investigation Department and Public Protection Units.
Specialist Crime DivisionEdit
The Specialist Crime Division (SCD) provides access to national investigative and intelligence resources for matters relating to major crime, organised crime, counter terrorism, intelligence, covert policing and public protection. SCD comprises more than 2000 officers and targets individuals that pose the most significant threat to communities.
Border Policing CommandEdit
Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism UnitEdit
Police Scotland has limited responsibilities when it comes down to counter terrorism, with the Metropolitan Police being the main force behind counter terrorism operations throughout the UK. However, the SCD does have counter-terrorism in its remit, and relies on daily support from several UK agencies, including MI5 and the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office.
Major Investigation TeamsEdit
Major Investigation Teams (MITs) are located throughout Scotland and are responsible for leading the investigation of all murder inquiries and large-scale and complex criminal investigations. Although each MIT will be responsible for investigating cases within its own area, where required they will be able to be deployed anywhere in the country to respond to need and demand.
National Counter Corruption UnitEdit
The National Counter Corruption Unit is the first of its kind in UK policing and works in partnership with the public sector to prevent corruption in publicly funded organisations. The unit also offers a specialist investigative capability. The unit is split into two teams, one focused internally within Police Scotland whilst a second team focuses on other publicly funded organisations.
National Human Trafficking UnitEdit
The existing Scottish Intelligence Coordination Unit and Strathclyde Police Vice and Trafficking Unit combined on 1 April 2013 to form the new National Human Trafficking Unit (NHTU).
National Rape TaskforceEdit
The investigation of rape and other sexual offences is a key priority for Police Scotland. National Rape Taskforce units are located in Glasgow and Aberdeen and work alongside Divisional Rape Investigation Units. They provide a national investigative capacity and a case review function.
Prison Intelligence UnitEdit
The Prison Intelligence Unit (PIU) provides an interface for the exchange of information and intelligence between Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service. The unit also develops and supports policy, procedure, planning, research, technology development, advice and communication between Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service.
Licensing and Violence Reduction DivisionEdit
The Licensing and Violence Reduction Division (LVRD) contains a number of miscellaneous functions including the titular alcohol licensing and violence reduction teams.
One of the higher-profile units within the LVRD is the Domestic Abuse Task Force (DATF). The DATF has a presence in each of the command areas as DATF (West), DATF (East) and DATF (North). The DATF (North) is unique amongst the three in having sub-offices in N Division (Highlands and Islands), A Division (North-East) and D Division (Tayside). The DATF has national responsibility for pro-actively addressing domestic abuse. Its divisional equivalents are the Domestic Abuse Investigation Units.
Another unit within the division is the Force Flexible Policing Unit (FFPU, or "Flexi Teams" as they are known locally), based in all three command areas (North, East, West). This unit's primary function is to act upon specific geographical intelligence relating to spikes in crime trends (particularly involving violence, alcohol, antisocial behaviour or other high volume crime), and carrying out taskings in the form of high visibility patrols and public reassurance.
Operational Support DivisionEdit
Policing of Scotland's roads network is the responsibility of the Roads Policing Unit. The unit is split into three areas, west, east and north which cover their respective Local Police Divisions. The departments aim is to achieve casualty reduction and wider operational objectives. There are roughly 500 road policing officers in Scotland, Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle is currently the head of roads policing. The Collision Investigation unit sits within Road Policing division. Unlike many other forces, there is no dedicated Collision Investigation. Instead investigating serious and fatal RTCs lies with specially trained officers who carry out the role beside their core road patrol functions.
Operational Support UnitEdit
Six operational support units (OSUs) have been established to provide specially skilled officers trained in over ground search, public order and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) response. When not used in their specialist roles OSU officers are deployed in local communities focusing on issues as directed by demand. OSUs are based in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee (North), Edinburgh and Alloa (East) and Glasgow (West). Across the force area the OSU comprises a total of 6 Inspectors, 18 Sergeants and 172 Constables.
Armed Policing provides Armed Response Vehicles (ARV), the Specialist Firearms Unit and Armed Policing Training.
Prior to the inception of Police Scotland, the routine tasking and visibility of ARV officers varied widely across Scotland with deployment models varying for matters such as if officers carried side arms with a standing authority or if they were secured in the vehicles. The operational functions and cover of the ARV's also varied including if they could be tasked for routine incidents and one legacy force did not have a regular ARV patrol. Police Scotland introduced ARV patrols in all 13 local policing divisions in Scotland with 275 dedicated officers. ARV officers carry a X26 or X2 Taser, a Glock 17 handgun and a Heckler & Koch G36 carbine. Former Chief Constable Sir Stephen House's founding policy decision was that ARV officers would be granted a standing authority to overtly carry their sidearm and, in addition, controversially allowed ARV's to be able to respond to routine incidents (non-firearms incidents) "to provide support to local policing through regular and tasked patrols". This policy was made without proper consultation provoking both political and public debate. In October 2014, the policy was changed so that an ARV can only be tasked to an incident involving firearms or a threat to life.
The Specialist Firearms Unit (formerly the Tactical Firearms Unit), which was inherited from Strathclyde Police, consists of Specialist Firearms Officers (SFO) and Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFO), who form part of the United Kingdom CTSFO Network, and are equipped with the SIG MCX carbine.
In June 2016, it was announced there would be an additional 124 armed officers, of these, 90 officers would be dedicated to armed response vehicles and 34 would be trainers and specialist firearms officers, bringing the total number of armed officers to 365.
Air Support UnitEdit
The Air Support Unit is based at Glasgow City Heliport and consists of one helicopter, owned and operated by Bond Air Services under contract. A helicopter crew consists of one civilian pilot and two police officer observers. The Air Support Unit was inherited from Strathclyde Police, the only police force in Scotland to possess such a unit at amalgamation in April 2013. The Police Scotland and Strathclyde Police Air Support Units have suffered a total of three hull-loss accidents involving their aircraft, two of which resulted in fatalities.
- On 24 January 1990, a Bell 206 JetRanger G-EYEI, normally used by Radio Clyde and covering for unavailability of the police MBB Bo 105 (G-SPOL) helicopter crashed in Giffnock, Glasgow after suffering engine failure during a sudden, severe snow storm. The aircraft was not fitted with a "Snow Deflector Kit" and suffered from choking of the engine air intake, resulting in the engine failing. The aircraft hit a five-story building while attempting to land and crashed to the ground, causing the death of 32-year-old police observer Sergeant Malcolm Herd. The remaining three crew (two police officers and one pilot) survived the accident.
- On 19 February 2002, a Eurocopter EC135 T1 G-SPAU crashed in a field near Muirkirk in East Ayrshire while conducting a search for a possible missing child. The crew, comprising two police officer observers and one pilot escaped serious injury, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and scrapped. Accident investigators were unable to confirm a definitive cause for the accident, but issued two recommendations to improve safety.
- On 29 November 2013, Police Scotland's only helicopter (a Eurocopter EC135, registration G-SPAO), crashed into The Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow, killing ten people including all three crew.
Police Scotland had access to a loan helicopter (also a Eurocopter EC135, registration G-CPSH, formerly of the Chiltern Air Support Unit) from the National Police Air Service. This was removed from service with the formation of NPAS, due to budget cuts.
Police Scotland received their own, new H135 (renamed EC135) in early 2017, registered G-POLS. The aircraft continues to be leased from Babcock, who also still provide pilots, maintenance and support.
Marine and Underwater UnitEdit
Two full-time units skilled in both underwater search and marine capability are based in Greenock (1 Sergeant and 11 Constables) and Aberdeen (dive supervisor and four Constables). A number of non-dedicated divers are retained across the country to provide additional support.
The mounted branches of Strathclyde Police and Lothian and Borders Police were merged prior to the formation of Police Scotland. The combined branch now provides mounted support throughout Scotland. The mounted branch is based in Stewarton, East Ayrshire and has a strength of 22 horses.
Police Scotland operate four mountain rescue teams.
Special constables are unpaid volunteers who have the same police powers as their full-time counterparts when on or off duty. They must spend a minimum of 96 hours per year on duty. Although they are unpaid, a "Recognition Award Scheme" remodelled in 2016 awards a payment of £1100 to special constables who achieve 180 hours service in a 12 month period and have at least two years previous police service.
As September 2019 there were just over 500 special constables throughout the force , down from nearly 64% from 1400 in 2013/2014. During 2019, 118 special constables left the organisation (70 of whom left to become full time PCs with Police Scotland) however during the same time period only 50 new special constables joined the organisation resulting in a net loss of 68 special constables during 2019 
Special Constables undertake a new standardised comprehensive training program which normally runs over a course of at least six weeks with one week spent at Tulliallan Police College. When on duty, they wear the exact same uniform as their regular counterparts. There are no differences in their uniform and they are visually indistinguishable from their regular colleagues. Special constables can be used in time of need, usually working alongside regular officers on community teams, response teams and in the Specialist Crime and Operational Support Divisions e.g. Dog Unit. Roads Policing, CID
|1 October 2012||30 November 2015||Sir Stephen House||QPM
|30 November 2015||5 January 2016||Neil Richardson||OBE
|Designated Deputy for Chief Constable|
|5 January 2016||8 September 2017||Phil Gormley||QPM|
|8 September 2017||27 August 2018||Iain Livingstone||QPM||Designated Deputy for Chief Constable|
|27 August 2018||Present||Iain Livingstone||QPM||Interim Chief Constable prior to permanent appointment|
Uniform and equipmentEdit
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Standard uniform consists of black wicking T-shirts with black trousers. Black micro fleeces are also issued along with high visibility water proof bomber jackets. Black and high visibility body armour covers with attachment points for items of equipment are also standard.
Personal equipment consists of a police duty belt holding TCH or Hiatts handcuffs, a Monadnock expandable baton, Captor PAVA spray and a small first aid kit. Equipment can be attached directly to the body armour or worn on a utility belt. Officers in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders divisions as well as Traffic officers (G, E, J and T divisions respectively) are issued hand held computers which are known as Personal Data Assistants (PDA) instead of a pocket notebook. All Police Scotland officers when on duty are issued with Motorola MTH800 radios for use with the network which is being replaced as part of the government's new network.
Police Scotland has a fleet of approximately 3,750 vehicles. Almost all of Police Scotland's high-visibility marked vehicles are marked up in a "half-Battenburg" style.
Some of the most common marked patrol vehicles used by local policing response and community teams have included:
Response / Community VehiclesEdit
Specialist Vehicles (Roads Policing, Armed Response etc.)Edit
BMW & Volvo currently hold the contract for supplying high performance vehicles required for various department needs, including Road Policing (RPU) and Armed Policing (ARV) - (SFU) which generally consist of both marked and unmarked BMW 330, 530 and X5 models, the Mitsibushi Shogun. The Operational Support Unit primarily use the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Iveco Daily as personnel carriers.
Crime Division officers tend to use semi-marked or unmarked hatchback and estate cars. Vauxhall Movano vans are also used, some acting as mobile offices. Some of these vehicles are modified for police use with radios, lights, sirens and a 'run lock' facility enabling officers to take the keys out of the ignition without stopping the engine, thereby ensuring the battery is not depleted if the lights need to be left on for long periods of time.
A national non-emergency phone number (101) was introduced on 21 February 2013, after having been successful in Wales and later England. When a caller dials 101, the system determines the caller's location and connects him or her to a call handler in the police service centre for the proper area. The 101 non-emergency phone is intended for situations when an emergency response is not required, to reduce pressure on the 999 system.
There are also ongoing proposals backed by the Scottish Government for BTP's Scottish division (D Division) to be merged with Police Scotland. With the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Parliament is now responsible for policing of railways in Scotland. In August 2016, the Scottish Government announced that their programme for the coming year would include a Railway Policing Bill which would provide primary legislation for the full integration of the functions of British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland and initiated an extensive consultation on the matter. However, the proposal has received criticism due to the potential impact that it would have on the BTP and the future of it in the rest of Britain as a force, as too the continued specialist nature of railway policing should the merger go ahead. The merger became possible after the responsibility for policing of railways in Scotland was devolved following a recommendation by the Smith Commission and its later inclusion in draft legislation, with the UK Government stating "how rail transport is policed in Scotland will be a matter for Scotland once the legislation is passed". In 2017, the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill was passed and the bill received Royal Assent, however in August 2018, the integration of railway policing in Scotland has been suspended amid concerns over Police Scotland officers and railway unions about the merge.
It has been announced that a specialist "Rail Policing Unit" will be created within Police Scotland. This unit will sit alongside the Roads Policing Unit with offices receiving specialist training for dealing with rail incidents.
Other proposals backed by the Scottish Government include merging the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) and Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) into Police Scotland if further devolution over these areas is delivered to Holyrood.
In May 2015, Sheku Boyah died after being arrested by nine police officers whilst under the influence of drugs. Officers were responding to report of a male in possession of a knife which was found at the scene.
In July 2015, Police Scotland failed to respond to an initial report of a vehicle crash on the M9. Lamara Bell was not discovered for three days despite concerned members of the public reporting the abandoned vehicle. She later died as a result of her injuries. Her boyfriend John Yuile also died.
In 2016, Police Scotland undertook a trial of so-called 'cyber-kiosks' for analysing the contents of mobile phones. Concerns over privacy sparked a Scottish Parliament inquiry and prompted human rights groups to query the legal basis that allows officers to seize and analyse phones.
In February 2017, Police Scotland’s chief constable Phil Gormley resigned following misconduct allegations that fuelled worries about the leadership and governance of Scotland’s national force. Gormley had been on indefinite leave since September, facing five separate investigations.
In September 2017, it emerged that Police Scotland had compiled an illegal database on over 10% of the population. Despite a public outcry, by early 2019, no details had been removed, but a further 162,520 peoples details had been illegally added.
A Home Office report in 2017 indicated that the rate of deaths in police custody in Scotland was four times higher than in the rest of the United Kingdom.
- 'Always Vigilant' in English.
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