Angus councillor voices concerns

In a statement released at the end of July, Scottish Liberal Democrat Justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP said it would be “fundamentally wrong” to sweep problems in police call handling under the carpet as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) announced the terms of reference for their review of call centre operations.

The HMICS review, which was announced by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson following the recent tragic events following a car crash in Stirling, is set to report in October.

Commenting, Ms McInnes said: “The reason for this review might be the tragic events around the M9 crash, but concerns over the impact of control room closures have been raised for months. It is vital that the HMICS takes a proper look at the implications of the restructuring and what it has meant for staff and people reporting crimes. It would be fundamentally wrong to sweep these issues under the carpet.

“It is essential that serving police officers and civilian staff have every chance to have their say during this review without fear of adverse consequences for their careers. The commitment from HMICS to listen to police staff and public alike is welcome and they will be held to that.

“We should also not forget that the problems within Police Scotland do not stop with call handling. Whether we are talking about armed police on the streets, the massive use of stop and search and reports of low morale, the case for a wider review of the way that our police force does business is overwhelming.”

Angus Councillor David May backed the MSP, saying: “I agree with Alison McInnes about the need to ensure that the serving police officers and civilian staff get the chance to take part in the review.

“I also believe that the problems stem from the disastrous SNP policy of centralising the police services and there has been mistake after mistake since then, and all we see in Angus are cutbacks and our excellent local police and staff, being told to stop doing things they have been doing for years due to central dictat.

“It is not surprising therefore, that there are calls for the Chief Constable to resign as he is overall responsible for Police Scotland.

When we asked Police Scotland to respond to these comments, Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson said: “We remain committed to the strategic change programme for C3 Division, each phase of which is subject to rigorous consultation and scrutiny and approval by the Scottish Police Authority.

“Local policing remains at the heart of the change programme for the division and how we deliver service to our communities.

“We welcome the HMICS inspection which we hope will provide confidence to the public about how we handle and respond to calls.”