Former Crime Agency chief Phil Gormley appointed new head of Police Scotland

Phil Gormley Image copyright PA

The former deputy director of the National Crime Agency, Phil Gormley, has been appointed to run Police Scotland.

The 53-year-old will take over from Sir Stephen House.

He was competing for the job alongside two senior Police Scotland bosses, Iain Livingstone and Neil Richardson.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said Mr Gormley has "a wealth of experience in policing communities across the UK".

Mr Gormley began his policing career at Thames Valley in 1985, and before his appointment to the crime agency role he was chief constable of Norfolk Police.

The father-of-one has also worked for the Metropolitan Police and in 2005 he was responsible for the merger of Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Branch to form the Counter-Terrorism Command.

He said: "I have a 30-year career in policing and law enforcement, the last 13 years as a chief officer leading organisations delivering for the public in a period of profound transformation for policing.

"Police Scotland is on just such a journey and it will be my job to ensure our service strikes the right balance between local community approaches, and the many challenges we face from organised criminals, cybercrime and extremism."

Phil Gormley's career

  • 1985 - Began policing career in Thames Valley Police
  • 2003 - 2007 - Commander, Metropolitan Police Service, responsible for firearms and aviation security, then for special branch and counter terrorism.
  • 2007 - 2010 - Deputy Chief Constable, West Midlands Police
  • 2010 - 2013 - Chief Constable, Norfolk Constabulary
  • 2012 - Awarded the Queen's Police Medal
  • 2013 - 2015 Deputy Director General, National Crime Agency

Source - Scottish Police Authority

Mr Matheson, the justice secretary, said: "Mr Gormley brings with him a wealth of experience in policing communities across the UK, including an extensive background in counter-terrorism, and has previously held high-profile roles as Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and Deputy Director General of the National Crime Agency.

"While Police Scotland has faced challenges, the fundamentals of policing in Scotland remain sound and I am confident that, under Phil's leadership, the organisation will continue to develop positively in the months and years ahead. I look forward to working with Mr Gormley when he takes up his post early next year."

Andrew Flanagan, the Scottish Police Authority's (SPA) chair, said: "From a strong field, I am confident we have found the best candidate to build on the progress that policing in Scotland has made, and to address the issues and challenges that the service faces.

"He has extensive experience in leading law enforcement organisations with diverse workforces, operating across both rural and urban environments, and with local, national and international reach. That mix fits well with the needs of a single service here in Scotland."

Police service under pressure

Mr Gormley, who will be given a salary of about £200,000 per year, will take over at Police Scotland in the wake of criticisms.

The force's policy of arming officers to attend routine incidents has been questioned.

It was also criticised for its approach on stopping and searching juveniles.

In addition, Police Scotland came under pressure over its response to the M9 crash in July in which John Yuill and his partner Lamara Bell died, after it took three days for officers to respond to reports of their car going off the road near Stirling.

Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation - the body which represents Scottish police officers - said: "The financial climate has never been more difficult and it will be his job to try to ensure the police service has the budget it needs to cope with the heightened terrorist threat, the ongoing costs of reform and every other aspect of policing.

"Internally, he faces a workforce which has recently reported unprecedented high levels of dissatisfaction with the job and action needs to be taken to address that.

"Mr Gormley's entire policing career has been forged in England. In the past we have expressed concerns that policing in Scotland has had its unique identity diminished due to a lack of understanding of our own challenges and issues. We have already met with Mr Gormley and are delighted that he has acknowledged his willingness to listen and learn."

John Finnie, the justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and a former police officer with 30 years service, said he was concerned at the appointment of Mr Gormley "who can only have passing knowledge of Scotland, its police service and community expectations".

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said Mr Gormley needed to help the force move on after "two years' worth of scandals".

Justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP said: "No-one doubted the commitment of Sir Stephen House to helping make Scotland safer but under his leadership the national force lurched from crisis to crisis.

"The new chief constable has the opportunity to move quickly to address the challenges that Police Scotland is still facing. He will have our support as he does so."

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