Police Scotland and Scottish Government meeting: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting between the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland on 8 February 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs
  • Jo Farrell, Chief Constable of Police Scotland
  • Jane Connors QPM, Deputy Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Graham Thomson, Head of Legislation and Divisional Development, Police Division, Scottish Government
  • Lynsey McKean, Police Division, Scottish Government (note)

Items and actions

Budget, workforce and Police Scotland operating model

The Chief Constable set out how she wishes to develop the operating model over the next two to three years. She explained that Police Scotland is developing a three-year programme of work to design and implement a new model that will prioritise operational policing, reduce back office duplication, and create capacity to deal with new and increasing threats.

The budget settlement for 2024/25 allows for officer recruitment to recommence in March, with 200 recruits due to begin their initial training and further intakes planned throughout the year. The Chief Constable highlighted her desire to look at the totality of the workforce, providing examples of officers currently undertaking roles which could be performed by staff which would enable more officers to be deployed to frontline roles. She also noted that the evolving nature of crime required specialist skills and knowledge to be able to respond effectively, citing cybercrime as an example.   

The Cabinet Secretary thanked the Chief Constable for explaining her rationale and long-term ambition. She recognised the Chief Constable’s assurances on officer numbers to the Criminal Justice Committee on 20 December and highlighted that Parliament will clearly maintain an interest in the issues, as the work to develop a new model continues. It was agreed that Ms Constance and Ms Farrell would continue to discuss these matters and that their next meeting would provide a further opportunity to explore in greater detail. 

Estates review

The Cabinet Secretary highlighted the parliamentary interest on the estates review. The Chief Constable provided a brief overview, highlighting local consultation is ongoing. It was agreed this matter would be discussed in more detail at their next meeting, when the results of the initial consultation will allow for more substantive discussion. 

Proportionate response to crime

The Chief Constable provided an overview of the outcomes of the Division A pilot. An evaluation is underway which will inform a decision on whether to rollout across other Police Scotland divisions. The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) will be included in this process and the decision made will be presented to the SPA Board in due course. The Cabinet Secretary thanked the Chief Constable for her update and asked to be kept informed of developments.

Safeguards on XL bully dogs

The Cabinet Secretary asked the Chief Constable about her plans to enforce new safeguards on XL Bully dogs in Scotland, acknowledging measures are being put in place at considerable pace. The Chief Constable explained Police Scotland is working at pace to deliver training and awareness raising of the legislation, with DCC Connors adding that with the press reports emerging at the end of last year of people moving dogs across the border they have been alert to and preparing for this for some time. The Chief Constable explained the service will respond to any dangerous dog incident; that it’s not necessarily about the breed of the dog. The Chief Constable highlighted that there are potential cost implications, but these are being managed.


The Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Constable agreed that the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability Service (DESC) is a pragmatic and cost-effective solution for gathering potential evidence from dashcam footage, providing a secure system for digital evidence to be uploaded as part of an investigation following a report to police, and then used across the criminal justice system. The Cabinet Secretary spoke of the Ministerial interest within the Transport Portfolio. The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights will be viewing the pilot operation shortly, demonstrating the Scottish Government’s commitment to a national rollout. 



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Scottish Government
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