'No consultation' on Police Scotland firearms policy

Police Scotland firearms officers Two reviews of the new firearms policy are currently being carried out

Related Stories

The chief constable did not consult his civilian watchdog before putting armed officers on routine patrol across Scotland, MSPs have heard.

The appearance of armed officers on the streets has been criticised by some politicians and community leaders.

The chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) told a Holyrood committee he was only briefed on the decision two months after it was made.

The SPA was established to hold the chief constable to account.

Its chairman, Vic Emery, told Holyrood's Justice Sub-Committee on Policing that the SPA was only informed of the armed officer policy in a single line in a comprehensive statement of readiness two weeks before the eight regional forces were merged on 1 April 2013.

Mr Emery said he was not personally consulted in advance, and was only briefed on the matter at a public meeting two months after the armed officers were deployed.

Security clearance

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House did discuss the matter with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in advance, but Mr Emery was not briefed by either individual, the MSPs heard.

Mr Emery, who has deep security clearance, said it was not satisfactory to be consulted on such matters after the fact.

The SPA will now try to persuade Police Scotland to be more forthcoming in the future, he said.

Mr Emery said: "The scrutiny role that we have is pretty much after the fact, and that is not really my view of governance and I think I have expressed that to this committee various times when we have met previously.

"We need to move on to a situation where we are consulted in advance of policy decisions being made, rather than simply scrutinising those decisions after the fact, and I acknowledge that."

He added: "We have had a growing improvement in our relationship with the police and this is a matter of persuading the police that they need to come forward and consult with the board, particularly on how decisions are communicated amongst the community before those decisions are made.

"We are maturing that relationship. We need to mature that because the act can be literally interpreted as being a scrutiny after the fact, and that is not a satisfactory situation."

'Complete control'

A Police Scotland statement of operational readiness, produced on 15 March 2013, states: "Work is well under way and on track in terms of armed policing provision for day one when a standing authority for armed response vehicles, tactical firearms unit, airport coverage and other policing operations will be implemented."

Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell, who sits on the sub-committee, said: "This decision has been taken by one individual under what he has referred to as operational.

"His competence and his complete control over that, and the lack of checks and balances over that, is the thing that we are now hearing from Mr Emery is highly unsatisfactory to be informed of something as high profile and dynamic as this after the event."

Police Scotland has 275 specialist firearms officers out of its total strength of more than 17,000.

The decision to have armed officers available in every police division was made after the merger of Scotland's eight regional forces.

Reviews of the policy are being carried out by the SPA and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    08:59: Renewable energy

    Economic development agency Scottish Enterprise is putting £450,000 into an international fund which supports renewable energy projects.

    The fund, worth about £5.5m, aims to back ocean-related schemes like wave and tidal technology.

    Countries including the UK, Spain, France and Ireland will be able to apply for cash when the fund opens on 23 October.

     
  2.  
    Text 80295 08:52: Police firearms - Your views

    Heather, Edinburgh: You've heard of the saying 'I don't tell you how to do your job'. Police, nurses, firefighters do a great job. If anybody has a right to say whether police carry guns, it's them. They are on the frontline and should decide.

    John: The present chief constable should remember that the police are supposed to serve the public and that Scotland is not a police state.

     
  3.  
    08:45: Read all about it...

    "Hands Up, I Surrender" is the headline in the Daily Record above a photo of Police Scotland's chief constable Sir Stephen House after yesterday's announcement on armed police patrols.

    Thursday morning's papers

    Both The Herald and The Scotsman describe the decision that armed officers will no longer be deployed on routine patrols as a "U-turn".

    The prime minister's promise to cut tax for millions of families if the Tories are re-elected is the main lead for the Scottish Daily Mail.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

     
  4.  
    Text 80295 08:35: Police firearms - Your views

    John in Fortingall: Please be careful how you describe this change. There will not be fewer armed police officers on duty. They will still be on armed patrols. It is just that they will not be attending routine calls, even if they are the closest resource. They will be reserved for specialist armed incident and threat to life duties only.

    John, East Kilbride: Why is it always said police on the streets? Where? In their cars is more likely, not like the old days.

     
  5.  
    08:31: Morning Call - Your views Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Campaigners have hailed a decision by police to overturn the policy of some officers carrying guns in public. We're asking: how much influence should the public have over the police?

    And, at the start of a 22 night sell-out tour of Scotland, Billy Connolly has made light of his health problems. What is it like living with Parkinson's disease?

    The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00, or text 80295.

    You can listen live from 08:50 here.

     
  6.  
    08:20: Scottish universities - Your views

    Following on from our story on Scottish universities, did you attend any of those famous seats of learning? Care to share your memories of university life? Do you ever wake up at 03:00 in a sudden panic that you've missed a tutorial/exam?

    Get in touch via text to 80295, email here or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  7.  
    08:15: Moving on up...

    Four Scottish universities have climbed up the Times Higher Education world rankings, despite the UK coming under pressure from overseas competition.

    Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen universities all performed better than last year.

    However, Dundee University dropped out of the top 200.

    Glasgow University Glasgow University climbed to 94th in the latest rankings

    In first place overall was the California Institute of Technology in the US, holding on to the top spot for the fourth year running.

    Glasgow was 94th and St Andrews 111th. They had shared 117th on the rankings last year.

    Aberdeen university was ranked 178th, up from 188.

     
  8.  
    @bbcscotlandnews using #scotlandlive 08:08: Your Pictures

    Douglas Sinclair tweets: Red sky in the morning in the island paradise of Orkney.

    Orkney
     
  9.  
    08:06: Sturgeon urges welfare reform delay

    Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appealed for major UK welfare reform to be put on hold in Scotland.

    She has written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for a delay until plans for new powers at the Scottish parliament are considered.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Universal credit is replacing six benefits and tax credits for working-age people with a single payment.

    It is being phased in across the UK by 2017 and is already available to some claimants in Inverness.

    Lord Smith's commission has been set up to seek agreement on a further devolution of powers to Holyrood.

     
  10.  
    08:02: Weather forecast BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Good morning, Kirsteen here. Mostly dry today during daylight hours, with some brightness & sunshine. S/W winds will strengthen along the west coast... reaching severe gale-force across the Western Isles, Skye & n/w coast. Gusts of up to 65mph. Rain will spread from the west later, too.

     
  11.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome from the Scotland Live team on Thursday 2 October as we bring you a comprehensive round up of news, sport, travel and weather between now and 18:00.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.