Policing in Scotland

Strategic priorities set direction for police over the next six years.

Policing priorities to ensure the service responds to future demands over the next six years have been published.

The revised strategic police priorities (SPPs), which follow extensive consultation over the summer and autumn, reflect developments and progress in police operations and governance.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“The strategic priorities seek to promote continued engagement with communities, securing the public’s confidence in their police service while strengthening both local and national partnerships such as those already in place to tackle violence and to improve the response to people in mental health crisis. There is a specific priority for workforce development and wellbeing, given officers and staff are the service’s greatest asset.

“The Justice Committee carried out a major inquiry that recognised significant achievements since Police Scotland’s creation, including new national capabilities and improvements in how rape and sex crime is investigated. The 2017-18 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey also found a majority of adults consider the police do a good or excellent job in their local area.

“This year Police Scotland played a key role in the implementation of new domestic abuse laws, while also introducing mobile technology to keep officers in local communities and strengthening its system for handling calls from the public. Building on such progress, the new priorities will inform the future direction of Scotland’s highly valued police service.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said:

“These priorities reflect the broad remit of policing, from crime prevention and investigation to our crucial, but contributory, role in improving the wider wellbeing of communities.

“I am committed to relentlessly improving how we reflect, engage with, and serve our communities, ensuring we uphold our values of human rights, fairness, integrity and respect.

“Reform has helped to maintain responsive and visible local policing in our communities and transformed how serious crime and major incidents are dealt with while policing is asked to deliver around £200m of annual savings compared to legacy arrangements.

“To deliver these strategic priorities, it is vital policing is able to invest in core infrastructure. These improvements will support our people and enable them to meet a wide range of challenges, from sustainability to emerging crime threats.”

Vice Chair of the Scottish Police Authority David Crichton added:

"These revised priorities set a clear high level direction for policing in Scotland which will ensure policing is responsive to changes in demand and continues to strengthen local and national partnerships.

"They will now inform a refreshed Strategic Police Plan which the SPA has a responsibility to develop in consultation with the Chief Constable and we expect to launch for public consultation in the new year."


The legal framework for the strategic police priorities (SPPs) is set out in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012.  The Act sets out the broader framework, where the Scottish Police Authority is expected to review the Strategic Police Plan every three years, and the Chief Constable must prepare an Annual Police Plan.

The revised SPPs are as follows:

·       Crime and Security – prioritises prevention, detection, investigation, equality and human rights to support positive criminal justice outcomes; responds to threats, and maintains public order, both locally and nationally. 

·       Confidence – continues to inspire public trust by being ethical, open and transparent; maintains relationships and engages with local communities, to build a positive reputation at a local, national and international level.

·       Partnerships – works collaboratively to keep communities safe, sharing a collective responsibility to deliver preventative services that improve outcomes for individuals, increase resilience and address vulnerability.

·       Sustainability – adapts resources and plans for both current and future social, economic and financial circumstances, considering the environmental impact of policing and its operations.

·       People – values, supports, engages and empowers a diverse workforce to lead and deliver high quality services, with a focus on workforce development and overall wellbeing.

·       Evidence – uses evidence to innovate and develop services which address the current and emerging needs of individuals and local communities, and ensure that resources, capacity and skills are in the right place to deliver outcomes.

Read further information about the revised SPPs.

The Scottish Government is protecting Police Scotland’s revenue budget in real terms, despite UK Government cuts to the Scottish Budget, and has increased the annual funding for policing by more than £80 million since 2016-17 – bringing it to £1.2 billion for 2019-20. Police Scotland’s capital budget allocation has increased by £12 million in 2019-20 to help enhance its ICT capabilities, including the roll-out of mobile technology, enabling officers to spend more time in the communities they serve.  Ministers continue to press the UK Government to pay back the £125 million VAT paid by Police Scotland before the Treasury reversed the policy.

Scotland’s police officers received a 6.5% 31-month pay deal, announced in September 2018 and described by the Scottish Police Federation as the greatest single increase in police pay for over 20 years; This compared with 2% for English and Welsh officers in 2018 and 2.5% in 2019. The basic starting salary for new constables in Scotland is £26,037, in contrast to £20,880 in England and Wales.

A two-year pay award was confirmed for police staff in Scotland – 3.25% for year 2019-20, and 3% for year 2020-21 – which will be paid with December salaries. This follows the implementation of the ‘Staff Pay and Reward Modernisation’ package of reforms to police staff pay, terms and conditions from April.


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