Police Scotland and Scottish Government meeting: March 2024

Minutes from the meeting between the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland on 1 March 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs
  • Jo Farrell, Chief Constable of Police Scotland
  • John Somers, Deputy Director, Police Division 

Due to a technical issue the MS Teams call had to be terminated and the Chief Constable called the Cabinet Secretary directly. The Cabinet Secretary then called John Somers to feedback on what was discussed.

Items and actions

The Cabinet Secretary wanted to raise two issues with the Chief Constable:

  • The Emma Caldwell case and calls for a Public Inquiry
  • The Brian Low case

Emma Caldwell case and calls for a Public Inquiry

The Cabinet Secretary noted the positive outcome in securing conviction of Packer and that the reinvestigation was clearly a major and complex undertaking. The Chief Constable recognised the significant public interest and asserted that Police Scotland is very much a different organisation from what it was then.

Both noted the significant public interest and the calls from the family and Parliament for a public inquiry. The Cabinet Secretary will make a decision about next steps after meeting with the family and consulting with the Lord Advocate; and would expect that decision to be in the coming days – with Parliament informed first if there was to be a Public Inquiry.

The Chief Constable had apologised on behalf of the service to the Caldwell family and would meet with them next week. She acknowledged significant public interest in an Inquiry and thought it important to also consider all options as well as recognise the potential significant resource impact on the police service.

The Cabinet Secretary said she would keep the Chief Constable informed on next steps.

Brian Low case 

The Cabinet Secretary acknowledged this was clearly an operational matter where all decisions relating to the case are for Police Scotland and noted the unusual circumstances led to it being raised in First Minister's Questions and there has been significant media interest. The First Minister agreed to pass on the request from Mr Swinney to increase police visibility in the area to reassure community – though was clear this is a decision for the Chief Constable. 

The Cabinet Secretary said that proactive briefing is helpful in circumstances such as these where there is potential for wider media and Parliamentary interest. 

The Chief Constable confirmed that Police Scotland had referred themselves to the PIRC on this issue. As it was a live investigation and so could not go in to detail, noting the Cabinet Secretary would not expect that, but that a very experienced Chief Superintendent has been allocated to the case and will be prioritising community engagement.



Telephone: 0300 244 4000 

Police Division
Scottish Government
1st Floor Rear
St Andrews House
Regent Road
EH1 3

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