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Police Scotland (Referral to Health and Safety Executive)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th May 2020.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I draw the First Minister’s attention to the referral of Police Scotland to the Health and Safety Executive by the Scottish Police Federation for inadequate protection of officers carrying out breath tests. The Police Federation states that the procedures do not represent “best risk management practices”.

A referral to the Health and Safety Executive is clearly a serious matter, and it is unacceptable that officers should be put in that position. Will the First Minister therefore direct Police Scotland to find a solution that ensures that police officers feel safe in carrying out those important duties?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

If I was to stand here and issue a direction to Police Scotland on operational matters, I think that James Kelly would probably be one of the first to say—rightly—how inappropriate that would be. The procedures for taking evidential breath tests are a matter for the chief constable.

However, clearly, there are important issues to consider here.

I have seen reports that the SPF has referred the matter to the Health and Safety Executive, which it is absolutely entitled and right to do if it has concerns. I would encourage the Scottish Police Federation and Police Scotland to continue their dialogue about the issue in order to resolve it.

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice regularly meets the chief constable, and I have regular discussions with the chief constable about the entirety of the policing response to the virus. Of course those discussions include and impinge on issues relating to the health and wellbeing of officers and staff. I encourage continued dialogue, and any views that the Health and Safety Executive has on this important issue must be taken into account.