Strategic police priorities: consultation analysis

External analysis report of the responses received to the consultation on the revised strategic police priorities.

4. The Strategic Police Priorities (SPPs)

This section first looks at three of the closed questions from the consultation.

4.1 The extent to which the proposed SPPs met expectations

Question 1. To what extent do the revised Strategic Police Priorities meet your expectations for what the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Service should focus on in the future?

Figure 1: Strategic Police Priorities and expectations for the future

Figure 1: Strategic Police Priorities and expectations for the future

Base: 54

Nearly half of respondents (44%) felt that the SPPs met their expectations. Forty one percent felt that they met their expectations partially and 15% felt that they did not at all.  Organisations were generally more positive, 59% selected fully, compared to 30% individuals.

Note: small base sizes

Response Number of Responses
Fully 24
Partially 22
Not at all 8

4.2 Reflecting needs

Question 2. Do the revised Strategic Police Priorities reflect your needs?

Figure 2: Respondents’ views that the SPPs meet their needs

Figure 2: Respondents’ views that the SPPs meet their needs

Base: 54

Nearly half of respondents (43%) felt that the proposed revised SPPs reflected their expectations. Thirty-seven percent felt that they met their expectations partially and a fifth (20%) felt that they did not at all. Organisations were generally more positive, 59% selected fully, compared to 26% individuals.

Note: small base sizes

Response Number of Responses
Fully 23
Partially 20
Not at all 11

4.3 Reflecting community needs

Question 3. Do the revised Strategic Police Priorities reflect the needs of your community?

Figure 3: Respondents’ views that the SPPs reflect community needs

Figure 3: Respondents’ views that the SPPs reflect community needs

Base: 52

Just over a third of respondents (33%) felt that the SPPs reflected the needs of their community. Forty percent felt that they met their community’s needs partially and just over a quarter (27%) felt that they did not at all. Organisations were generally more positive, 52% selected fully, compared to 15% individuals.

Note: small base sizes

Response Number of Responses
Fully 17
Partially 21
Not at all 14

The remainder of this section of the consultation aimed to understand respondents’ views on each of the proposed revised Strategic Police Priorities (SPPs). Responses under each of the six questions (included in section 3.) have been collated and analysed and key themes under each SPP have been produced for ease of understanding.

In general, the respondents felt that the proposed revised SPPs met the needs of their interests and of their communities and this was mentioned by respondents throughout the questions. They were generally well received by respondents with Crime and Security and Partnerships being the most mentioned SPPs and People and Sustainability being the least talked about SPP. Key themes that arose in the consultation feedback included: localism, prevention, collaboration.

The key SPPs themes are mentioned under each SPP heading in the following sections. The following sections include combined data from Citizen Space and the stakeholder meetings.

4.4 Crime and Security 

Prioritises prevention, investigation, equality and human rights to support positive criminal justice outcomes, respond to current and emerging threats and maintain public order

4.4.1 Positivity

The Crime and Security SPP was positively received by respondents with individuals and organisations mentioning that it was ‘very much welcomed’ and ‘great to see it on the SPP list’ and that it was one of their ‘top priorities’.  There were nearly fifty mentions around the topic of ‘crime’ within the consultation.

It was also thought to reflect well the needs of local communities with organisations feeling that it was also key to ensuring safety in communities.

4.4.2 Prevention

Prevention was the key aspect of the Crime and Security SPP that was welcomed by the majority of respondents and it received the most mentions within the consultation. There were nearly fifty mentions of the word ‘prevention’ by respondents with multiple respondents commenting that prevention is a key priority. One organisation highlighted that prevention and being proactive helps to reduce the demand on other services such as health and social. This fits in with the public health approach.

Multiple organisations felt that prevention was so important that it should be a standalone priority. Organisations generally felt that prevention should be reflected across all the SPPs. Two organisations commented that they were disappointed that the previous prevention priority had been removed.

Respondents also mentioned that preventative measures help to increase public confidence and trust and reduce negative outcomes.

Organisations highlighted that there are local prevention strategies in place owned by a range of partners. No examples of partners were given.

 “Prevention of crime reduces negative health and social outcomes for communities which reduces the demand on health and social care services” 


4.4.3 Human Rights

There were around fifteen mentions of ‘human rights’ within the consultation. The majority of organisations commented that they welcomed the ‘human rights’ aspect within the SPP. A few organisations suggested that human rights could even be contained in each SPP or even be its own separate priority. They felt that the idea of the police supporting the vulnerable or those with disabilities was really positive, along with supporting equality. 

One organisation was especially keen on supporting the human rights of those with learning difficulties.

One individual, however, did not agree as they felt that it was not the police’s role to tackle inequality.

It was also raised by one organisation that the police should be sensitive when dealing with local people with learning difficulties and understand their human rights.

“In terms of reflecting needs of our communities, the references to equality and human rights, prevention, safe communities and addressing vulnerabilities are all welcomed.” 


4.4.4 Crime reduction

Both individuals and organisations stated support for this SPP as they agreed that the police’s focus should be on crime reduction and on addressing criminal behaviour. It was also raised that this SPP ties in with police officers core duties and their important role in investigating crime.

It was felt by organisations and individuals that even though crime statistics show a decrease in crime, that it should be acknowledged that some do not trust the statistics and that in some areas in Scotland crime is on the increase. They felt this should be tackled, especially in relation to organised crime, addiction and vulnerability. 

One respondent mentioned that focus should be placed on dealing with low level prevalent crimes such as vandalism and mobile phone use while driving while another stated that the police should attempt to reduce the gap between the safest and least safest places in Scotland. 

One organisation stated that the SPPs should also reflect and take into consideration court business and its changing types of cases, one being domestic abuse.

4.5 Confidence 

Continues to inspire public trust by being ethical, open and transparent, evidencing performance against outcomes, and building on a positive reputation at a local, national and international level

There were around thirty comments connected to the Confidence SPP, throughout the consultation.

4.5.1 Local policing

There were over sixty mentions of the words ‘local’ or ‘localism’ throughout the consultation. With regards to the Confidence SPP the key focus for respondents was the element around local policing. The words ‘local and ‘localism’ were used frequently throughout the consultation. In general, respondents, both organisations and individuals, felt that ‘local’ policing and ‘localism’ is incredibly important.

“We would want the SPPs to include a focus on ‘Localism’, ensuring that the national police force continues to focus on local policing to ensure it maintains the confidence and trust of the public.”


Respondents talked about local officers in their community, how they need to be honest and approachable and there when they need them. Organisations felt it was important to reduce stigma around association with police and show a ‘softer side’. This prompted a few individuals to mention that there is a lack of police presence in their local area.

There was concern from multiple respondents that localism was no longer the heading for a SPP and they found this disappointing.

“..the need for a continued focus on local policing, within the context of a national police force.  However, the draft SPPs do not explicitly refer to ‘Localism’ as a priority.”

Local Authority

 “Words count for absolutely zero. People want officers in their area able to do their job and be there when they need them. Maybe Strathclyde is bursting with cops. In NE Scotland they are certainly…spread very thinly.”


4.5.2 Confidence & trust

Respondents believe that having a local policing presence, will help build confidence and trust with the public.

One individual felt that public confidence with the police is currently low.

“In the six years of Police Scotland the confidence in the Police has fallen drastically and the priorities set will not fully recover that confidence” 


Organisations felt that communication with the public is key to building confidence. It was perceived that having greater public visibility e.g. school visits and engaging with organisations and showing that the police do listen would also go a long way. It was suggested that potentially showcasing the benefits of national initiatives to communities might be helpful. No examples of such initiatives were given.

The majority of organisations also mentioned that reviewing public confidence trends should be just as important as crime rates.

Organisations wanted to make sure that the SPP is clear to the public and reflects the wider role of the police e.g. supporting vulnerable people, improving outcomes, prevention and intervention in order to build confidence and trust in the community.

Organisations (representing young people) stated that only a minority of young people felt confidence is fundamental to the role of the police.

“Providing confidence and maintaining safe communities are welcomed within the Priorities.”


4.5.3 Transparency

Another area highlighted by a few organisations was transparency. They felt that this was really important and that there is a need for openness and transparency in decision-making and associated evidence. The police should be open with the public and highlight their plans and strategies clearly. This in turn will help build trust with the public.

4.6 Partnerships 

Works proactively with partners to maintain safe communities and support improved outcomes for individuals, increasing resilience and addressing vulnerability

4.6.1 Positivity

Responses (over thirty) around the Partnership SPP showed that it was very well received by both individual respondents and organisations. They felt that it tied in well with respondents’ community needs and organisational commitments. The general feeling was that this is a very positive SPP and a top priority. 

There were a couple of mentions that partnerships may be more important in rural areas.

 “The prioritisation on partnership working and commitment to transparency will lead to more confident partnership working including importantly, working in communities.”


4.6.2 Collaboration

Over thirty individuals and organisations mentioned that they welcomed collaboration and partnership working between agencies and gave examples where this is already happening in their community e.g. Ignition Project, Saturday SportsScene. 

Respondents, both individual and organisations, would welcome the continuance of this as they feel it would help deliver strategic aims and also support best practice and knowledge sharing. They also felt that working closely to share information was important and that it could even be strengthened. 

Some organisations felt that the SPP is potentially too open-ended, agencies still need to focus on core roles rather than those of other agencies, but collaboration is still important.

One organisation suggested a ‘co-design’, proactive approach to ensure approaches deliver the right outcomes for organisations and people. 

“…supports the commitment to ‘Partnership Working’.  This fits with..the approach on how we work in partnership with Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue, NHS and many other partners to improve outcomes, as the challenges that face us in a modern society cannot be addressed by any single public agency.  It is important to focus on the partnership connections at a national and local level and how best to achieve synergy.”


4.6.3 Improvement & Resilience

In turn, collaboration and partnership working was seen to help to increase community improvement and community resilience. Partnership and collaboration can help communities and agencies overcome difficulties and challenges and can also break down barriers. Organisations stated that partnership working is key to this and also a key principle for Police Scotland.

4.6.4 Safety & Engagement

Three organisations felt that the wider role of the police in the community should be considered e.g. safety, and engagement with local communities.

It was felt generally by respondents that partnership working between the police and other agencies/organisations would make the public feel safer as they are working together to tackle key issues within the community and that efforts are planned.

Engagement with the community was raised as being important. One organisation had spoken with young people and found that often young people are afraid of the police or even approaching them. They suggested that the police should engage with young people and the community more in order to build relationships and in turn increase trust. School visits etc. were commented on as being welcomed.

“The strong emphasis on partnership working in helping to make our communities safer, clearly demonstrates a direct link to local community planning arrangements and objectives.”


4.7 Sustainability 

Adapts to present and plans for future social and economic circumstances, considering the environmental impact of policing and its operations

4.7.1 Positivity

Sustainability was mentioned less frequently (less than ten mentions) within the consultation compared to the other SPPs. The few comments that were received were positive confirming that the SPP did indeed reflect the needs of the local community.

“Policing has changed to reflect the evolving demographic and social needs of communities….Continued financial restraints need a continued focus on how to deliver a modern policing model and investment in sustainability concepts and people is essential to achieve the most effective outcomes.”


4.7.2 Changing environment

One organisation mentioned that the SPP should take into consideration the changing justice system/environment. 

A few individuals and organisations highlighted that funding plays a big part in policing operations and that economic circumstances can change and that this could impact delivery of policing services.

Another organisation raised the impact, for example, Brexit or hate crime could have on the delivery of services.

Organisations that had spoken with young people felt that this SPP was very popular with those who wanted environmental targets established so Police Scotland could address climate change.

“A commitment to change that promotes environmental sustainability is also welcomed, indeed this could be strengthened beyond ‘ensuring no negative environmental impact’ to collaborating with partners on action that mitigates the negative impact of climate change.”


4.8 People 

Values, supports, engages and empowers a diverse workforce to lead and deliver high quality services

Again, this SPP was mentioned infrequently by respondents (under fifteen comments in total) throughout the consultation. There were only a few comments about the police as people and the main bulk of comments came from organisations. One organisation commented that ‘Learning’ should be covered in SPPs.

4.8.1 Training and Support

One individual and one organisation commented that the police should be trained such that when encountering local people who have mental health issues or learning difficulties, especially in cases where the police believe the person has committed a crime. The police should also have sensitivity and compassion when dealing with local people who have different issues.

“I would like to highlight the needs of the community in its diversity. I am mindful that many people who interact with the police may have particular needs. In my own case I have long term mental health problems and would appreciate police personnel being sensitive and knowledgeable about such issues.”


4.8.2 Workforce diversity & wellbeing

One organisation spoke positively of the impact of having a diverse workforce and organisations mentioned that all staff within the workforce should be treated equally and there should be true diversity along with support for e.g. LGBT staff. It was also raised that workforce wellbeing should be a priority. Organisations appeared to place high importance on wellbeing and training within the police. It was felt that having a diverse workforce would lead to empowerment and in turn mean better policing within the community.

“…as well as increasing community intelligence, potentially leading to more crime prevention. As will empowering and supporting a diverse workforce.”


4.9 Evidence 

Uses evidence to develop services and addresses current and emerging demands, ensuring that the right capacity and skills are in place to deliver high performing and innovative services

There were over twenty comments from individuals and organisations related to ‘evidence’. The majority of the comments were positive about the SPP except for those around police resourcing.

4.9.1 Measurement

Organisations were generally supportive about this SPP and felt that it should be built into the reporting cycle including accountability, assurance, governance and audit. 

Most respondents discussed that evidence was important for measuring demand, resourcing and funding and were supportive of this approach. They discussed that this would be a more ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’ way of working and that it was very ‘sensible’.

Evidence based services are a more efficient and effective use of the public purse.”


Two organisations mentioned that with regards to spending and controlling public funds, evidence-based services are the best way to work. 

Another organisation stated that using evidence is key for targeting priority issues within the community.

The sharing of data gathered was felt to be important for one organisation as they felt that it would be useful for Police Scotland and Local Authorities to share data on the different elements that they measure. They felt it would be extremely useful and welcomed. This organisation also highlighted the impact that budget cuts can have on services and that working together can help meet community demands.

One organisation did question how to evidence prevention.

A few respondents did not feel that the Evidence SPP was helpful and said that it is self-evident and unusual as an approach. One organisation stated that evidence-based approaches are now ‘business as usual’.

“We are not sure why ‘Evidence’ has been included as an SPP as it is self-evident that any public body would develop policies, strategies and services that are ‘evidence based”


4.9.2 Resource

There were numerous mentions (around fifteen) of ‘resource’ issues throughout the consultation. This included mention of a lack of current police resources and also a lack of funding. This ties into the demand and capacity element of this SPP. Respondents were generally displeased about the lack of visible police resource. They stated that the practicalities of working must be placed against the reality of demands.

One individual suggested that officers currently do not have the tools and resources that they need to enable them to do their jobs.

Another individual requested an increase in police resources in rural areas whilst another highlighted that the police are currently stretched to breaking point.

A few organisations highlighted the issues arising from the establishment of a national force meaning senior officers have been lost at a local level.

Two organisations mentioned that finance is missing from the SPPs and that you cannot deliver services with insufficient funds, especially within such a broad geographical area.

Organisations felt that more focus should be placed on developing policing for the future and clarity around wants and needs for communities.

“Whilst acknowledging the need to set strategic priorities there needs to be a root and branch examination of what the Police do and are expected to do as current resources and funding are stretched to breaking point”


4.9.3 Renaming of SPP

There was also some debate around the title of this SPP with organisations. They suggested that ‘Evidence’ has multiple connotations. Other potential naming options could be ‘knowledge’, ‘accountability’ or ‘experience’.

4.10 Other key themes

4.10.1 Localism

Localism was a major theme that came out of the consultation. Repeated emphasis was placed on local policing and supporting individual communities and SPP reinforcement of both.

A few organisations expressed disappointment that the new set of SPPs did not have a specific SPP on localism, as local policing continues to be a focus for Police Scotland and the Scottish Policing Authority. They wanted to make sure that localism still plays a key part within the proposed SPPs. Another organisation mentioned that continued focus needs to be on local policing.

One individual mentioned that different communities experience different issues, therefore local policing is important. 

Some organisations that attended the stakeholder meetings did not mention localism specifically but similarly pointed out that there are different needs across different areas. They also referenced the need to acknowledge diversity within areas e.g. rural and urban and that each local area will have different challenges.

Organisations felt that local officers should be empowered to address local issues and develop stronger links with local authorities and communities and that greater reference should be made to local policing plans and working with communities.

It was explained that a range of local initiatives are already in place to encourage young people to engage with the police e.g. Campus Cops, Street Soccer.

 “These are very wide priorities for the whole of Scotland and, in that respect, these are fine.  However, every community is different, with different issues and problems.  There needs to be more focus on individual communities as well as for Scotland as a whole.”


4.10.2 Language

Overall, the SPPs were welcomed and were received positively by respondents. They mentioned that the SPPs are ‘broad yet comprehensive’ and cover ‘the most important aspects’ in a ‘simple’ and ‘concise’ manner. They also cover ‘all areas expected’ and aligned with individual and organisational expectations. The language aspect was commented on around ten times throughout the consultation.

Organisations and young people were positive about the SPPs and their high-level themes. Some organisations felt that it was important that the SPPs are not too prescriptive.

“Overall the revised priorities are welcomed. They are simple and easy to understand yet cover all of the key areas that….would expect to see”


Although some respondents felt the SPPs were ‘simple’ and ‘easy to understand’ some individuals felt that some of the language could be adapted. It was individuals that found the SPPs harder to understand than organisations.

One individual raised that there was no sign of the word ‘accessibility’. They felt that this word should be included as all public services should be seen as accessible, but police services are not regarded in this way currently.

Another individual felt that the narrative could be revised and thought that some of the language was ‘too passive’ while another mentioned that the SPPs seemed vague.

Organisations generally felt that the SPPs would not be understood by laypeople and it would be useful to give context or examples. Being clear on the target audience for the SPPs was thought to be helpful.

 “This survey is only aimed at those who understand the language being used.”


4.10.3 Planning system 

Organisations that attended the stakeholder meetings run by the Scottish Government added a few comments around the planning system, how it monitors itself and slots together.

There was a request from one organisation for sight of the short/medium/long term goals of the SPPs as they felt this would be useful.

A few organisations said that aligning the SPPs to ‘Serving a Changing Scotland’ was very important. It was suggested that there are currently too many reporting structures and they need to be streamlined. There was a general concern that the SPPs may be lost among other guidance/priorities from elsewhere. Clear alignment with related documentation needs to be ensured. Linking the SPPs to the Policing Principles which take a broad approach and take into account a range of social issues was also seen as being key. 

One local authority confirmed that they are getting the data they need from the Police Scotland performance framework.

Some organisations also discussed that the SPPs are a mix of enablers and outcomes and questioned whether it should be one or the other. 



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