Tag Archives: police scotland

Rennie calls on Justice Secretary to end “chilling” Police whistleblower policy

Scotland’s Police force has been beset with difficulties since its 8 Police forces were merged into a single entity five years ago. Some of these difficulties have come to light because police officers have reported their concerns to politicians and the media. So what is the Police management plan to deal with this? Simples. Just make police officers register every single contact with politicians or journalists. If they don’t they could find themselves in big trouble.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for the intervention of the Justice Secretary and Scottish Police Authority to ensure that the police hierarchy are not free to silence internal critics after it was revealed that new guidance has been issued within Police Scotland that will crack down on whistle-blowers.

From STV News:

Scotland’s justice secretary has been urged to ensure new Police Scotland guidelines do not have a “chilling effect” on internal critics within the force.

The new rules require officers to declare any associations they have with journalists and politicians, raising concerns they will be used to quash whistleblowing.

The guidance is compulsory for all police officers and special constables, with the prospect of misconduct proceedings for anyone who breaches it.

It is part of the force’s latest anti-corruption strategy and aims to “protect the information, assets and reputation of Police Scotland”.

The General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation likened it to the sort of policy you would find in a banana republic.

Any policy that equates contact with elected parliamentarians and journalists with contact with criminals is deeply worrying.

It risks being seen as an attempt to silence dissent that would not be out of place in a banana republic.

Willie said:

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Liberal Democrat position on Police merger vindicated by Scottish think tank

The Lib Dems have form for calling things right – the Iraq War, the Credit Crunch, Mystic Clegg’s account of what would happen post Brexit vote. We also said from the beginning that merging Scotland’s eight police forces into one was a disaster waiting to happen. So it has been proven in many ways from routine arming of Police in the Highlands to the failures related to the M9 crash where two people died after being left for 3 days, to the closing down of saunas in Edinburgh, ruining years of a system that worked.

Now think tank Reform Scotland has published a report that vindicates the Lib Dem position and supports the measures for reintroduction of local accountability that we called for in our Scottish Parliament election manifesto. Its research director said:

However we remain concerned that, under the current centralised structure, there is no obvious way to actually make localism happen.

For that reason, we have proposed that both the funding and governance structure must change. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and on that principle we believe that local authorities should again be responsible for funding 50% of policing, with the Scottish Government continuing to fund the other 50%.

Furthermore, we believe that each local authority should be able to nominate a member of the Scottish Police Authority to ensure that local priorities are adequately represented.

The creation of Police Scotland was a mistake, and in the absence of any further wholesale reform we all have a responsibility to make the smaller changes which can help re-create local policing.

Liam McArthur, Scottish Lib Dem Justice spokesperson said:

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Watch: The day they let Willie Rennie fly a plane

That should strike fear into the heart of anyone who has ever driven with Willie! Or maybe it’s just that I’m ultra cautious on the road.

Today, Willie went on a training flight with the UK Civil Air Patrol, who provided air support to Tayside Police prior to the SNP’s disastrous merger of Scotland’s Police forces.

The point of his visit was to outline what he would do to restore accountability to the Police service. The party would not do another top down re-organisation, but would ensure that local councils had control of the policing plan in their area to ensure that it meets their needs. Since the merger, it’s been very much a roll-out of what used to happen in Strathclyde across the country. That resulted in armed police being used for routine duties in places like Inverness, much against the views of the local community. After the intervention of the Liberal Democrats, this was stopped.

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No, the Liberal Democrats do not owe Police Scotland £800,000 (or any other sum for that matter)

Get into an argument with any cybernat and, sooner or later, when you’ve won the argument, you’ll have it thrown at you, a bit like a modern Godwin’s Law, that the Liberal Democrats should pay their £800,000 bill to Police Scotland.

This is all to do with the security arrangements for our conference in Glasgow in 2013. South of the Border, the Home Office picks up these costs. As policing is devolved, the Scottish Government had responsibility and refused to do so. That meant that, apart from a small contribution to cover the costs of accreditation from the UK Government, Police Scotland had to pick up the tab themselves. Nothing to do with us.

Every time I get this, I refer the cybernat in question to this response to a freedom of information request which comprehensively debunks the idea that we owe any money to Police Scotland at all. Read my lips,

By way of explanation, it has been reported in the media that there is an outstanding invoice of £800,000 for this conference; however, this is factually incorrect. No invoice for the policing costs of the conference was ever generated and the Liberal Democrats did not enter into any arrangement with Police Scotland to provide policing.

In case it wasn’t clear the first time:

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Police Scotland go too far again – and the irony behind Rennie’s reaction

Another day, another example of Police Scotland’s disrespect for civil liberties. Hot on the heels of arming police on routine duties on quiet highland streets against the wishes of the local community and pursuing a highly illiberal stop and search policy, interspersed with some casual spying on journalists, we now have compulsory drug testing outside nightclubs.  From the Daily Record:

Customers queuing outside clubs have been approached by officers who swab their hands for traces of illegal ­substances.

Those who don’t co-operate are refused entry while those who test positive are questioned and face being searched and arrested.

Politicians and licensed trade bosses yesterday criticised the tactic as heavy-handed and a breach of young people’s rights.

I have never ever been an enthusiastic nightclubber, but this actually makes me want to go and protest against such disproportionate action. How dare the Police, who would have no reason to suspect me of any breach of the law, stop me going about my lawful business because I refuse to comply with an arbitrary check.  This must surely be a good issue for some cross-campus campaigning as universities resume.

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Rennie tackles Justice Secretary on allegations that Police Scotland spied illegally on journalists

Today’s Sunday Herald reports that Police Scotland has illegally spied on journalists to try to identify their sources, citing the Interception of Communication Commissioner’s Office:

However, IOCCO last month revealed that two unnamed forces had breached the revised Code since March 25.

It said: “Two police forces have acquired communications data to identify the interactions between journalists and their sources in two investigations without obtaining judicial approval.

“These breaches were identified during our inspections. In these cases the normal RIPA process was used and the data was approved by a designated person.”

In one of the cases, a force acquired the data of a newspaper’s suspected source and of a former police employee believed to be acting as an intermediary.

Willie Rennie has been quick to seek answers from the Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson. He wrote:

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LIbLink: Willie Rennie: We need the facts on the M9 tragedy

Ten days ago, a small blue car crashed just off the M9 near Stirling. A call was made to the Police reporting the incident. Nothing was done for three days. The driver of the car, John Yuill, was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell was still alive but, sadly, she too died on Sunday.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is one of the MSPs for the area. He has called for a comprehensive and wide-ranging enquiry to which all police staff should be free to contribute without fear of repercussions. He is concerned at attempts by the Chief Constable to pre-judge the existing smaller scale enquiry. Sir Stephen House apologised for Police Scotland’s failures but made it sound as though the fault was down to an individual. That seems to me to be grossly unfair to a member of staff. We know that pressure on staff has increased as control rooms have been closed and we need to look properly at the impact that these measures have had on staff wellbeing and their ability to provide the service we need from them. 

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Why we need Liberal Democrats: Consensual Stop and search of under 12s in Scotland halted

Police stop and searchThe Scottish Liberal Democrats aren’t in Government at the moment. Despite that, the small Parliamentary group has had quite an impact in the past 3 years. Willie Rennie has had Salmond squirming at First Minister’s Questions over his associations with Rupert Murdoch and has been pivotal in securing extra funds for colleges, childcare and free school meals.

Back in January, it came to light that 500 children under 10 had been stopped and searched by Police in 2010. That’s bad enough. Last year that figure was just 88 …

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Danny Alexander and Alison McInnes challenge SNP on armed police in Scotland

Police motorbike - Some rights reserved by Metropolitan PoliceI’ve written several times recently about how policing has changed in Scotland since Scotland’s eight police forces were merged into one.  Concerns have been expressed on a number of issues:

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Danny Alexander speaks out against use of armed and mounted Police in the Highlands

Police on Horse BackIn February, I reported that Danny Alexander had spoken out about the use of Police horses in his Highland constituency. As a native of Inverness I shared his sense of horror that anti-riot policing techniques were being used in the peaceable and safe Highland capital.

Danny had written to the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to express his concern about such unprecedented, heavy-handed policing, to to mention the cost of bringing the horses up from Ayrshire at a time when the service is closing local control rooms. He’s …

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Moves to close Edinburgh’s saunas show centralising and illiberal effects of Scottish Police merger

For the New Year, a story which shows the adverse effects of both illiberal and centralising measures. In Edinburgh, for the past 30 years, “saunas” have been licensed with the unspoken knowledge that it was sex, rather than massages, which were on offer inside them. Even if you don’t approve of sex being sold like any other commodity, there are obvious advantages in giving sex workers a safe environment to work in.

However, this tolerance is set to end after a series of raids on saunas. The City of Edinburgh Council is set to withdraw licences from these facilities within the …

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