Police Scotland chief constable says "time is right" to stand down

Written by Alan Robertson on 27 August 2015 in News

Sir Stephen House informs Scottish Police Authority he intends to leave at the start of December

Sir Stephen House has said the “time is right for me to take up a new challenge” as he announced his decision to step down as Police Scotland chief constable by the end of the year.

House told members of the Scottish Police Authority he was “immensely proud” to have been the first chief constable of Police Scotland and paid tribute to police officers and staff.

The former head of Strathclyde Police will step down from his post on December 1.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon praised his “strong focus on tackling violent crime” as well as his “powerful and long-standing focus on tackling domestic violence and sexual crime”.

Scottish Labour shadow justice secretary Graeme Pearson said his decision was the "right thing to do" and claimed the SNP government "can no longer hide behind him".

His decision to leave before his contract expires next year follows a turbulent few months that has seen Police Scotland face criticism following the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell in a crash on the M9 motorway near Stirling.

The pair were found by officers three days after an initial call was made to Police Scotland which reported their car was off the road.

An investigation is also being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner over the death of Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody after being arrested following an incident in Kirkcaldy in May.

"As the leader of a national organisation that provides a vital public service 24 hours every day of the year, there can never be a convenient time to move on,” said House.

“But after nearly 35 years as a police officer and the last 9 as a Chief Constable in Scotland, I believe the time is right for me to take up a new challenge and thereby allow the process to recruit my successor to begin.

"Much has been achieved since the creation of Police Scotland and I firmly believe that Scotland is better served for it. Not only in managing the changes brought about by reform and substantial financial cuts, but most importantly in the public service we provide.”

House paid personal tribute to the “unstinting work” of police officers and staff “in serving the people and communities of Scotland”.

"Policing has always faced many challenges and will continue to do so,” he added. “There remains much to do but knowing – as I do - the quality of our officers and staff, I am confident that the challenges will be met.

“The dedication and commitment of our people is outstanding and will serve Scotland well in the future under a new Chief Constable.

"I am immensely proud to have been the first Chief Constable of Police Scotland and to lead the men and women in it. I want to use this opportunity to pay public tribute to the men and women of Police Scotland who all deserve the recognition of the public.

“But the time has come to move on and take up new opportunities.”

Earlier the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said House had made a “monumental contribution to policing”

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