New strategy for Scotland’s police service welcomed.
The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland have set out their vision for policing in Scotland over the next ten years.
Policing 2026, which includes a commitment to increase frontline capabilities, including new civilian specialists in cyber-crime and mental health, is open for public consultation for the next ten weeks.
Welcoming the draft policing strategy and consultation, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“I welcome the work to develop the draft strategy for public consultation, to ensure Police Scotland keeps pace with the changing nature of crime and of society. I am particularly pleased to see the service’s commitment to increase its operational capacity in critical areas.
“Alongside this Government’s commitment to protect the police resource budget for each year of this parliament, we have provided an enhanced £61 million reform budget for 2017-18 to support the transformational change outlined in this draft strategy.
“While our Programme for Government is clear about the need to consider the right mix of skills and not just overall numbers, the public will always be interested in the number of police officers on the beat. We will pay particular attention to these issues before approval of the final strategy. In all circumstances, I would expect to see the number of police officers remaining significantly above the number we inherited in 2007. Indeed, our enhanced funding gives police the platform to invest in the wider workforce, technology and other resources to keep communities safe.
“Scotland’s police service is working well, with recorded crime at its lowest level since 1974, clear-up rates at a 40-year high, while public confidence remains strong. But as those who prey on our communities seek to exploit new opportunities, and as the needs and vulnerabilities of our population change, so Police Scotland must embrace new approaches.
“I am grateful to our police officers and civilian counterparts for the work they do day in, day out and their continued commitment to working with the wider public sector, other partners and communities to strengthen their service to the public. I urge all those with an interest to have their say on this next phase of policing in Scotland and look forward to seeing the final strategy at the end of consultation, when I will further update Parliament.”
The draft 2026 Strategy, including details of how to take part in the consultation, is available here.
The public consultation will run for ten weeks through to early May and following evaluation and feedback by Police Scotland and the SPA, the Authority board will recommend a final strategy to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice for approval under the 2012 Police & Fire (Scotland) Act, after which the Cabinet Secretary will update Parliament.
The Scottish Government committed through the Programme For Government 2016-17 to protect the police revenue budget in real terms for the entirety of the current Parliament – delivering an additional £100 million investment by 2021 – and to support Police Scotland and the SPA to transform the service to reflect the changing nature of crime and society, with the right mix and numbers of officers and civilian staff, including more specialists in cyber-crime and counter-fraud to respond to the changing nature of crime.
The Scottish Government’s Strategic Policing Priorities, published in October 2016 underlined the importance of understanding future demands, enabling the police service to operate more effectively and efficiently by ensuring that the right resources, including officers and staff with the right skills and capability, are deployed proportionately in the right way and at the right time.
And the Draft Budget 2017-18 commits the Scottish Government to: protect the revenue budget of the SPA in real terms; work with the SPA and Police Scotland to strengthen the community focus of policing in line with the Strategic Policing Priorities; ensure that Police Scotland has the right mix and numbers of officers and staff, including more specialists in cyber-crime and counter fraud to respond to the changing nature of crime; and continue to support police services, including community policing, specialist support, training, forensic services, ICT and criminal records, tackling serious and organised crime, drug enforcement and counter terrorism.
Earlier this month Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced further funding of £25 million for 2017-18, an equal split of revenue and capital, within the ‘Police Reform and Change’ budget to support the new phase of transformation next year.