Chief constable says Police Scotland is ‘discriminatory and racist’
The chief constable of Police Scotland has admitted that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exists within in the force.
Sir Iain Livingstone told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority that prejudice is a “reality for Police Scotland” and is “rightly of great concern”.
A review, set up in 2021, uncovered accounts of discriminatory behaviour by serving officers and heard instances of people being “punished” for raising concerns.
An interim paper published ahead of the SPA meeting said the inquiry had found “instances of ongoing discrimination against minoritised communities, including first-hand accounts of racism, sexism, and homophobia.”
Livingstone, who will retire in August, was clear that institutional discrimination “absolutely does not” mean that police officers and staff are racist and sexist. But he added that acknowledging the issues is "essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service".
The chief constable admitted that people from different backgrounds or with different requirements "don't always get the service that is their right".
It is believed that this is the first admission of its kind by a police chief in the UK.
Scottish Police Authority chair Martyn Evans described it as a “watershed moment” for policing in Scotland and in the UK.
Livingstone said: "It is right for me, as chief constable, to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist.
"Police Scotland is institutionally discriminatory and racist. Publicly acknowledging these issues exist institutionally is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Police Federation said: "SPF has heard the chief constable’s statement and the rationale for making it. If there are processes, policies, attitudes or behaviours which amount to discrimination in relation to racism, sexism or misogyny, then we will work with the service to eradicate them."
Chair of the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry, Lord Bracadale, said: “The Inquiry welcomes the statement today by the chief constable of Police Scotland.
“The Sheku Bayoh Inquiry was set up to examine the events surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh, including whether race was a factor in those events. I look forward to the continued co-operation of Police Scotland in the work of the inquiry.”
A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The law is clear: no one should be subjected to harassment or victimised at work. As an employer and a public body, the Equality Act 2010 requires Police Scotland to protect their employees and the public from discrimination.
“As Britain’s equality regulator, we are speaking to uniformed services and their regulators across the country about how we can most effectively work with them to improve the culture and practice of these vital public services and eradicate the discrimination and harassment still being reported."