Police Scotland in crisis as force warned it is becoming a reactive service irrelevant in local communities

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Police Scotland is in crisis after the body that represents officers warned the force has become a “reactive service” that only attends serious incidents.

David Threadgold, head of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), says the “basic principles of engagement and proactivity” were being lost.

As a result, the force is “becoming irrelevant in our communities,” he added.

A report claims a freeze on recruitment has lead to higher absence rates and a fall in crime detection.

Mr Threadgold said key decisions recently have been based solely on finance, and that the welfare of officers has become an afterthought.

Writing in 1919 Magazine, he said: “I cannot accept that a single executive decision in the last six months has been based on anything other than finance.

Police Scotland is said to be suffering a recruitment and retention crisis

“The welfare of officers has been a secondary consideration and I challenge anyone to produce evidence to the contrary.”

“Police Scotland is becoming a reactive service where attendance will only be assured at ‘serious’ incidents.”

“There is a recruitment and retention crisis that creates uncertainly from within, alongside increased levels of physical and mental health absence.

“The force must recruit, train, and empower officers effectively if we are to achieve success in delivering policing for our communities.”

Police numbers have reached their lowest level since 2008, with official figures showing the force has 16,363.

And in the run-up to this year’s Scottish budget, Chief Constable Jo Farrell had called on the Scottish Government to provide the force with an extra £128 million next year so it can maintain “a visible, accessible and proactive front line”.

She has already said the force “must focus intensely” on its core duties, along with “what matters to the people we serve”.