This fully updated and expanded second edition of Policing Scotland takes account of recent developments in Scottish policing and criminal justice against the backdrop of a dynamic political landscape and looming fiscal constraints in public services. The book offers contributions from both academics and practitioners, and not only shows police at work in contemporary Scotland, but also gives some insight into those areas where policing is carried out by non-police people and organisations.
It seeks to identify what it is about Scottish policing that is distinctly Scottish, the main characteristics of modern policing in Scotland, how these have developed over the recent past, and what they have become today. In answering these questions, the book analyses policing in Scotland in the context of the new and emerging ideas about the nature, purposes and methods of policing that are developing elsewhere in the world, and seeks to determine how far Scottish policing is maintaining its own traditions, or simply becoming a localised example of wider global trends.
The second edition of this popular text introduces new chapters on crime investigation, police unionism, ethnic minorities, policing violence and forensic science, as well as incorporating a major new theme which seeks to explain how those responsible for policing Scotland set about dealing with current issues such as terrorism and organised crime. This book makes a significant contribution to the current debate on policing in Scotland, and as such is an essential text for academics and those interested in policing issues.
SCOTTISH HERALD Policing in Scotland should be all for one and one for all
Published on 17 Jul 2010
As The Herald has reported this week, belt-tightening in the Scottish police forces has resulted in chief constables foregoing their bonuses and a freeze on recruitment being implemented.
Future cuts in police budgets will, in all probability, lead to radical changes to policing in Scotland. Recent discussions in police circles have not ruled out restructuring of the eight police forces or even amalgamation into a national police service. What has been missing, however, is a meaningful and open argument of the pros and cons of structural change to policing in Scotland.
A number of reasons for such change exist. First, the demands made on Scottish policing in recent years have stretched resources beyond what is comfortable, even with a marked increase in resources. Additions to the policing mandate continue with regularity, in the form of anti-terrorism measures, expanding the war on drugs, and dealing with serious organised crime networks, sex offending and computer crime, to name but some of the new responsibilities. If the police in Scotland are going to respond effectively to these issues, appropÂriate structures will have to be put in place that recognise the boundaries of crime are more likely to be national and international.
Secondly, there are about 17,400 police officers and 7,500 police staff in Scotland to provide a police service for a population of five million people. Improved uniformity in training, experience, conditions of service and career structures is called for. The largest force, Strathclyde Police, has the capacity and the scale to operate in a way that brings such uniformity to half of
the country. However, there is a requirement in changing times for a more flexible workforce and greater freedom of movement of personnel across Scotland to produce more integrated working and introduce a wider range of experience; the aim being to provide a more equal delivery of service to the public in all parts of the country. Without formal restructuring, the current force boundaries get in the way of such initiatives.
Thirdly, because Strathclyde is responsible for at least 50% of Scotlandâ€™s policing needs, there is an obvious inequality when a single police force has a massive responsibility while the other half of Scotland is policed by no fewer than seven forces. At operational level, a divisional commander in Strathclyde has more than 1,000 personnel under his or her command, more than the total numbers in each of the three smallest forces. Yet each of these is managed by a full hierarchy of chief, deputy and assistant chief constables. Further, a range of operational specialisms is available within such a large force which cannot be provided in a smaller force. A national structure is more likely to ensure that resources are directed towards operations wherever needed.
Fourthly, because of new legislation, Scottish policing is now more accountable by statute at both a national and strategic level and to local, multi-agency partnerships. In certain respects, the local political context of governance and accountability in which the police have traditionally operated is being overtaken by a national framework led by a Scottish minister charged with overseeing policing and a Scottish Parliament enacting legislation and debating issues that influence policing. This demands a police response at a more national level.
Fifthly, there is a strong case for arguing that, in reality, Scotland is already very close to having a national police service, headed by a corporate board of eight chief executives under the title of Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos). Examples of national forms of police working include the National Police Board, Scottish Police Authorities ConÂvenersâ€™ Forum, Scottish Police Services Authority, National Violence Reduction Unit, Scottish Policing Performance Framework, Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and the Scottish Police Information and Co-ordination Centre. There will also be the new National Command and Control System.
What, in Scottish policing, is now not national? The model of eight territorial police forces assisted by a small number of common service organisations is over-simplistic. The actual model shows a system of eight police forces delivering policing at a local level, but in co-operation with, and strongly constrained by, a multi-level and wide-ranging series of national influences. What Scotland has, to all intents and purposes, is a national police service in embryo, at such an advanced stage of development that it might only require a limited amount of financial resource and a degree of political will to create it. For many people, there are genuine anxieties about the risk of losing local democratic control but the example of Strathclyde does not suggest that a bigger scale necessarily means a weakening of local community policing. In addition, any re-structuring legislation could allow for adequate statutory protection of local policing reflecting local needs within a national framework. For the public, local policing would remain what it always has been: police officers working on local streets from a local police station led by a local commander. As for force headquarters and most of the activities that go on there, they have never figured high on the publicâ€™s radar. Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Finland and, most recently, Denmark have successfully combined national and local policing within a single organisational system.
The global economic situation is so firmly rooted in every nation that politicians and communities alike will have difficult choices to make. Policing is not only expensive, with costs continuing to rise; it is also growing in complexity and global reach. Organisational structures will come under greater pressure to sustain the present level of service and to do so at less cost to the public purse. Perhaps the crisis in public finance, allied to the recession, will stimulate new thinking on police structures.
The issue of principle is less about the politics and cost of restructuring but more about how more efficient and effective a restructured police service would be for the people of Scotland. The present situation is unco-ordinated, unclear, complicated and in need of transparency. Reorganisation, it is argued, would provide opportunities to introduce a more straightforward structure in which all the different policing agencies would find a home, and the various accountabilities to which policing is rightly subject would be more clearly defined.
It would be a policing system easier to organise, coordinate, manage, oversee and audit in a manner that is capable of winning public confidence. In all probability, it would lead to a more efficient and effective police service for Scotland.
Dr Daniel Donnelly and Dr Kenneth Scott (director) are in the Centre for Criminal Justice and Police Studies, Hamilton Campus, University of the West of Scotland. The second edition of their book Policing Scotland will be published next month.