Michael Matheson commits to police numbers remaining above 2007 levels as Policing 2026 strategy published
Police Scotland - Image credit: Ninian Reid via Flickr
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has committed to keeping police officer numbers above 2007 levels as Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) published their 10-year strategy for policing in Scotland.
The strategy sets out plans to make policing financially and operationally sustainable within three years, and it will involve staffing changes, including some reduction in officers over the longer term as Police Scotland implements the plans set out in the strategy.
A draft strategy was published in February and the final version of Policing 2026 was laid before the Scottish Parliament this week, following what Police Scotland described as "one of the most extensive consultation exercises ever undertaken in Scotland".
More than 1,700 responses were received to the consultation and additional feedback was gathered at events and meetings from staff, partners and the public.
Police Scotland said the strategy was "well received with the majority agreeing with the proposals and approach across all questions".
"Feedback was generally very positive about the vision set out in the strategy, the means of achieving it, and prospects for delivering sustained excellence in service and protection for the people of Scotland."
The final strategy was ratified by the SPA board at its meeting yesterday.
Following approval of the strategy by the SPA, the next stage will be the development of an implementation plan for the next three years.
There will be a transformation programme to increase capacity in areas including cyber crime and dealing with vulnerable people.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “The time is now right for Police Scotland to become a fully unified and sustainable organisation.
"This strategy will enable us to meet the challenge of policing 21st century Scotland and modernising our support structures.
“Recent events such as the horrifying attacks in Manchester and London and the cyber attack on the NHS reinforce the need for a modern police service with the flexibility to adapt and transform to meet such complex and growing threats and demands.
“The strategy has been endorsed through public consultation and with the approval of the Board, we will get on with the job of delivering the improvement and change that we all recognise is needed. It is vital that we continue to work closely with our partners, public and staff as we do this.”
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson welcomed the strategy.
He said: “Policing 2026 is an ambitious strategy for the future that will help our hard-working police officers and staff provide the best service to the public.
"I am encouraged to see the commitment to new ways of tackling cyber-crime as well as a strong emphasis on dealing with issues related to vulnerability and mental health.
“I am also very pleased to see the strategy’s commitment to building on Police Scotland’s already strong community relations.
“I welcome Police Scotland’s commitment to maintain officer numbers for the seventh year in a row.
“However, the Chief Constable has made clear that the shape of the workforce must be adapted to meet future demands and Policing 2026 aims to ensure the right skills mix to achieve that.
“The Chief Constable has assured me that operational policing capacity will be increased, and I have made it clear that officer recruitment should not be slowed until clear independent evidence is provided to both the public and the parliament that this increase has been delivered."
"Officer numbers will remain well above the number we inherited in 2007.
“The Scottish Government has also protected Police Scotland’s resource budget for each year of this Parliament – delivering a £100 million boost by 2021 – and provided an enhanced £61 million reform budget for 2017-18 to support the transformational change outlined in Policing 2026.
“The Scottish Government, like the Parliament and public expects strong governance and accountability, so I am clear that the SPA and HMICS must work together to oversee the implementation of the strategy.
“This will include working hand-in-hand with their workforce – and its representatives to support and energise them to realise this change and continue to provide an excellent service across Scotland.”