Draft Strategic Police Priorities for Scotland - Consultation Analysis Report

An analysis report for the recent consultation on Strategic Police Priorities.

Overall Summary

26. Reviewing the responses to the consultation in their entirety indicates that the majority of respondents support the principles or message behind each Priority in general, although it was common for respondents to caveat this by saying that one or more (or sometimes all) Priorities needed to be expanded upon to be fully comprehensive or cover a particular issue of interest. Respondents commonly recognised that the Priorities were intended to be quite wide-ranging and high-level, and so a frequent point was raised that ultimately how they are translated into actions through the SPA Strategic Plan, Annual Police Plan and Local Police Plans would be crucial.

27. That said, as standalone Priorities intended to set the direction of travel, the Priorities were, in principle, welcomed quite widely, with the references to "Localism", "Prevention" and "Collaborative Working" in particular recognised as positive inclusions. A wide range of organisational responses including local authorities, community councils, CPPs, third sector bodies and other public sector organisations indicated that the principles of the draft Priorities reflected their organisation's objectives, strategies and the principles which underpin their work.

28. Frequent reference was made to the notion of prevention and early intervention being key to a wide range of public issues and there was recognition that bodies involved in the delivery of public or community services had to work together to share insights, best practice and resources to tackle shared (or at least often highly related) social issues. A number of respondents recognised the role the police can play in tackling inequalities and whilst the mention of this under "Prevention" was welcomed, many suggested that addressing inequality issues should be drawn out as a theme which is relevant to all the Priorities. That said, a small number of respondents did argue that the police should primarily focus on dealing with crime wherever it occurs, and that tackling inequalities should be a matter for the Scottish Government and local authorities.

29. Drawing upon the notion of the Priorities aligning with and being instrumental to the delivery of a range of other national strategies and initiatives, a common suggestion was for the Priorities to make more explicit reference to some of the key programmes and pieces of legislation which set the context which the police operate in. In particular, the concept of community justice and the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 were mentioned by a range of respondents, as was the role of the police in supporting the delivery of the Equally Safe strategy (with one respondent suggesting that this could be highlighted as a specific Priority) and the service's contribution to improving the health and well-being of the nation and its communities.

30. In addition, particular respondents felt that the Priorities would be strengthened by explicitly recognising the various statutory roles of the police service, such as to act as corporate parents for looked-after and care-experienced children and young people.

31. Respondents also commonly recognised the relationship between each of the Priorities and that satisfying one would be both influenced by and depend upon the extent to which other priorities were delivered. Overall, respondents highlighted the need for an effective police service to have meaningful and on-going engagement with a wide range of individuals, communities, interest groups and delivery partners to ensure that the services provided were fit for purpose, effective, efficient and meeting the needs, ambitions and priorities of users. Within these comments a number of respondents highlighted that this engagement had to take place at a number of levels (local, regional and national) and recognise the voices of disparate and marginalised groups in particular.

32. With this in mind, respondents commonly commented that there is a need to consult beyond community leaders or other vocal parties to ensure that a wide range of views (truly reflective of communities or localities) are taken into account. It was suggested that this should also include paying particular attention to groups who are a minority (ethnic or otherwise) in number but may have important experiences to share. It was also commonly mentioned that engagement needs to be genuinely two-way - in other words, Police Scotland should be willing to discuss a wide range of matters with the public and other organisations and also be willing to take on board opposing or alternative viewpoints, supporting the service to truly reflect the needs of the public as a whole and to support the work of other organisations. Respondents highlighted that consultation about service delivery has to be more than a matter of process and that their views should genuinely be taken into account and used to influence decision-making.

33. A range of respondents recognised that implementation and service delivery would be the key indicator of whether the draft Priorities were appropriate. In doing so, respondents often stated that the delivery of a successful police service, which can meet deliver priorities, will require both sufficient resource and the ability to use that resource efficiently.

34. In summary, responses to the consultation indicated general support for the tone and ideas behind the draft Priorities, although respondents emphasised that how these are translated into service delivery (through other policing plans and initiatives) will be the stage at which their true appropriateness can be assessed. It is important to note that a number of respondents did indicate that they disagreed with (one or more of) the draft Priorities. In a small number of cases, this disagreement stemmed from fundamental opposition to the establishment of Police Scotland as a single force and the view that this had led to an inefficient service which did not meet or relate to the needs of communities and local areas. However, further analysis revealed that apparent disagreement with the Priorities was more commonly because respondents thought they did not go far enough or did not cover a certain aspect of policing which was important to the particular individual or organisation responding. In that sense, many of those who indicated that they did not support the Priorities seemed to share similar views to those who had indicated general support whilst also providing detailed comments on how individual Priorities could be expanded and generally strengthened.


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