Police Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

First, our police officers serving our communities across Scotland are doing a fantastic job—I am glad that Richard Leonard has recognised that. That is why crime is now at a 43-year low in Scotland. I do not think that it is fair for anybody in the chamber, notwithstanding the issues that we have been facing, to describe policing as being in any way, shape or form in crisis. Our police officers are keeping this country and the communities of this country safe, and they deserve our thanks for doing so.

In order to support our police officers, we are increasing investment in our police service and ensuring that the front-line resource spending of Police Scotland is increasing in real terms. It is right to do that and we will continue to support our police service in that way. Of course, we argued over many years that the position on VAT was indefensible. We were eventually backed on that by Scottish Labour, although it took a long time; rather than backing us from day 1, Labour backed the position of the Scottish Conservatives for a long time.

On the issue of a single police force, I still remember the days when Iain Gray was leader of Scottish Labour—if Labour eventually runs out of members from its own ranks to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I am sure that Richard Lochhead would be prepared to stand in temporarily—and I vividly remember watching him on a Saturday, I think, give a conference speech as leader of the Scottish Labour Party in which he announced that the policy of Scottish Labour was to have a single police force and he criticised the Scottish Government for dragging its feet in not committing to the same thing. It therefore used to be the case that Scottish Labour claimed the single police force as its idea.

Let us get behind our police service and the new chair of the Scottish Police Authority, and when the new chief constable is in place, which will be on a timetable to be determined by the SPA, let us get behind him or her as well. Let us support our police officers to continue to do the job that they are doing so exceptionally well right now in keeping this country safe from crime.