Police Scotland and Scottish Government meeting: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting between the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland on 9 January 2024.

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Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs
  • Jo Farrell, Chief Constable of Police Scotland
  • Malcolm Graham KPM, Deputy Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Don McGillivray, Director of Safer Communities, Scottish Government
  • Murray McVicar, Police Division, Scottish Government (note)

Items and actions

Budget and workforce numbers

The Chief Constable noted the favourable budget settlement announced in the Draft Budget on 19 December. She had made her public position on this clear when speaking to the Criminal Justice Committee on 20 December, where she had said the settlement allows Police Scotland to restart officer recruitment for the year, fund the cost of this year’s 7 per cent pay award for officers and staff, and make a credible pay offer in the coming financial year. She also said it would provide the organisation with the time and space to redesign and reshape.

It was noted that the Voluntary Redundancy and Voluntary Early Retirement scheme had launched on 8 January, with a closing date for expressions of interest by 8 February. The scheme applies to police staff, not officers, and early indications suggest that there is likely to be considerable interest.

The Chief Constable informed the Cabinet Secretary that 200 new recruits would begin training in March. She also noted that Police Scotland has traditionally held four recruitment rounds per year, each with approximately 300 new recruits. In order to enhance the experience for recruits at Tulliallan, the intention going forward is to have intakes of approximately 200 officers, but to have more frequent intake points.

It was noted that the Chief Constable had stated at the Criminal Justice Committee that the budget settlement will enable her to retain police officer numbers at around 16,500 to 16,600.

New operating model

The Cabinet Secretary observed that the Chief Constable had discussed with the Criminal Justice Committee progress towards a new operating model, within the funding envelope.

Work is ongoing within Police Scotland with a view to considering the optimum ways to deliver the service, utilising resources and all available officers and staff in the most effective and valuable way. Advances in technology as part of the Police Scotland Digital Strategy for the single service (such as the National Crime System which electronically networks the whole organisation) will be important in this space.

It was noted that Police Scotland had recently launched a consultation and engagement process on its proposed estate disposals.

Criminal Justice Committee 20 December 2023

The Chief Constable had appeared before the Criminal Justice Committee on 20 December. She had been accompanied by DCC Jane Connors and by Chief Financial Officer James Gray.

Further to the reflections earlier in the meeting, it was noted this was a broadly positive session, and the Chief Constable observed that the session had covered a lot of important areas, including Violence Against Women and Girls, mental health and Police Scotland estate.

Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Act 

The Cabinet Secretary updated colleagues on the implementation of the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Act 2021 and the potential revisiting of some aspects of the legislation.

Through a series of detailed sessions between officials and justice agencies, which had included Police Scotland operational and legal representatives, a number of challenges have been identified in how to operationalise the legislation.

The Cabinet Secretary said she would shortly write to the Criminal Justice Committee, outlining her intentions. It was important to ensure that the relevant stakeholders were informed in advance.

The Chief Constable said that, while she was supportive of the principles of the legislation, she recognised the operational challenges and was also fully supportive of the Cabinet Secretary’s wish to review the approach. She said she would welcome the opportunity for necessary amendments to be made. She noted that the responsible Police Scotland ACC Bex Smith (Major Crime, Public Protection and Local Crime), would be fully aware of the approaches that had been taken in England.

Contact

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Telephone: 0300 244 4000 

Police Division
Scottish Government
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St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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