Strategic police priorities: equalities impact assessment

EIA on revisions to the strategic police priorities for Scotland.

Equality Impact Assessment – Results

Title of policy

Strategic Police Priorities for Scotland

Summary of aims and desired outcomes of policy

To set revised Strategic Police Priorities which are provided for through section 33 of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012. These revised priorities will set the high-level strategic direction for the policing of Scotland and the carrying out of the Scottish Police Authority's (SPA) functions.

Directorate: Division: Team

Safer Communities Directorate: Police Division: Strategy and Collaboration

Executive Summary

The public sector equality duty requires the Scottish Government to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice, as a legislative requirement. Equality legislation covers the characteristics of; age, disability, gender reassignment, gender including pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation.

An equality impact assessment (EQIA) aims to consider how a policy (a policy can cover: activities, functions, strategies, programmes, and services or processes) may impact, either positively or negatively, on different sectors of the population in different ways. This EQIA has been undertaken to consider the impacts on equality of the revised Strategic Police Priorities (SPPs).

Scottish Ministers and public authorities are also subject to duties in relation to children rights and wellbeing under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) is a process to identify, research, analyse and record the anticipated impact of any proposed policy on the guiding principles and rights outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Given the link between equality issues (specifically with regards to age) and children's rights and wellbeing, this assessment covers both issues.

Policing is relevant to everyone in Scotland, but is particularly relevant for the most vulnerable people in our society. In drafting the revised priorities, we have considered key evidence on the issues affecting the equality groups set out above. The priorities reflect an expectation that policing should have a positive impact on each and every individual and community across Scotland, and should seek to address discrimination where it exists.

Rather than have a separate priority specifically focused on equality issues, we have framed the Strategic Police Priorities in a way which aims to embed an inclusiveness within policing, including community engagement, an ethical and transparent approach to service delivery, workforce diversity, and advancing equality and human rights. We expect these principles to follow through to planning at the SPA and Police Scotland, as they give effect to the Strategic Police Priorities through their range of functions and activities.


The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012[1] enables Scottish Ministers to set the Strategic Police Priorities, providing high-level direction for the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland. They connect with the Act's statutory policing principles that 'the main purpose of policing is to improve the safety and wellbeing of persons, localities and communities in Scotland'. Scottish Ministers must consult with the SPA, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, representatives from local authorities and anyone else they consider relevant before setting new priorities.

In partnership with other services, policing supports the delivery of a number of the national outcomes set by the Scottish Government, notably that 'We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe'. The Strategic Police Priorities set the overarching framework for policing in Scotland, reflecting the ambition within the national outcomes and the 'Justice in Scotland: Vision and Priorities' for a safe, just and resilient Scotland.

The Strategic Police Priorities were last set in October 2016. We committed within the 2018-19 Programme for Government[2] to review the Strategic Police Priorities (SPPs) this year, in order to reflect ongoing developments in the policing system and the changing needs of individuals and our communities.

These revised Strategic Police Priorities have been developed following a formal public consultation on a draft set of SPPs, and an associated programme of engagement with partners across Scotland.

The SPA and Police Scotland will use these revised SPPs to inform both their Strategic and Annual Police Plans, which will include putting in place objectives for the police service, and the activities which will deliver them.

We expect that these priorities will remain in place for a period of 6 years, with a plan to consult the SPA, Police Scotland and local authorities at the mid-point of 3 years. This will help us to consider whether the SPPs still remain relevant and appropriate.

The Scope of the EQIA and Engagement

Stage One

An initial stage of engagement for the review of our SPPs was carried out between March and June 2019. Discussions took place with a number of key external and internal stakeholders including the Scottish Police Authority, Police Scotland, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland, Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) officials, and the associations which represent police officers. This first stage of engagement was intended to discuss progress across policing in Scotland following a period of significant change, and to consider how the priorities for the police service had evolved.

During this initial phase, Scottish Government officials held a session with colleagues from Police Scotland and the SPA to specifically consider the equality issues arising from the proposed revision of Strategic Police Priorities. This discussion considered the key data and evidence from early stakeholder engagement.

In addition to this early engagement, a review of the existing evidence was carried out, taking account of the following data sources:

  • Scottish Crime and Justice Survey[3],
  • Recorded Crime in Scotland[4]
  • Scottish Household Survey[5],
  • Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2017-18[6]
  • Hate Crime in Scotland 2018-19 (COPFS)[7]
  • Scottish Transgender Alliance, 'Transgender Experiences in Scotland March 2008'[8]
  • Developing Information on Hate Crime Recorded by the Police in Scotland[9]
  • EQIA for the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012[10],
  • Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030[11]
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission, 'Hidden in Plain Sight' (2011)[12]
  • SPA Equality Outcomes 20170-21[13]
  • Police Scotland Equality Outcomes 2017-21[14]
  • Police Scotland Equality & Diversity Mainstreaming & Outcomes Progress Report[15]
  • Scottish Government, 'Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2017-18'[16]
  • Scottish Government Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform 2015-2019[17]

We undertook this review of the data to explore what the evidence said about the experiences and views of different equality groups in relation to policing.

Stage two

The second stage of engagement was a formal public consultation on a draft set of Strategic Police Priorities through the Citizen Space platform, and stakeholder meetings were attended by officials with a range of organisations including local scrutiny committees. To accompany the consultation paper, a partial Equality Impact Assessment and Children's Rights and Wellbeing Assessment was published, with the following question being posed to consultation respondents:

'Do you have any comments to make on our partial equalities impact assessment?'

24 of the 59 written responses to the consultation commented on the partial EQIA, and there was also some mention of issues relating to equalities and human rights through the stakeholder meetings. The responses on the partial EQIA were mixed, with some welcoming its content while others suggested areas for improvement. Positive comments included the view the assessment reflected and recognised the diverse needs of the communities which the police serve, and also that it was helpful to see that drafting of the Strategic Police Priorities had taken into account a wide range of equality issues.

In terms of improvement, the external analysis of consultation responses noted that a key theme was the potential for provision of further data on equality issues, such as breakdowns of the crime statistics e.g. by gender, ethnicity, age. Other issues raised once or twice on the EQIA through the consultation included ensuring equal access to police services for people with different needs, and strengthening the EQIA's focus on the impact of the revised SPPs on each of the protected characteristics. One respondent suggested separating out the Equality Impact Assessment and the Children's Rights and Wellbeing Assessment. However, we have chosen to continue to address these two issues together, as the relevant data presented here on children and young people and policing helps to inform both processes, and helps to provide a joined up consideration of the relevant issues across all age groups.

Key Findings

In response to the comments received through the consultation on further developing the data within the partial EQIA/CRWIA, we have added additional analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. An updated version of the data table we published as part of the partial EQIA/CRWIA is attached as an Annex. We have also incorporated evidence received through the consultation exercise, where appropriate.

It is important to recognise that these Strategic Police Priorities provide a high-level, strategic focus for the police service in Scotland. As such, they intentionally do not set specific objectives for the delivery of the service, including in relation to addressing equality issues, or the associated operational activities which will help to achieve these. This impact of the SPPs will be achieved through a 'golden thread' from the priorities through to the other planning products in the system – including the Strategic Police Plan, refreshed every 3 years, and Annual Police Plans. Therefore, the data explores equality issues that are related to policing, and which may be very broadly affected by the revisions of the SPPs. The SPPs do not seek to direct police operations, for example, those relating to specific types of crimes which may have more impact on certain equality groups.

The final Strategic Police Priorities are as follows:

Crime and Security – prioritises prevention, detection, investigation, equality and human rights to support positive criminal justice outcomes; responds to threats, and maintains public order, both locally and nationally.

Confidence – continues to inspire public trust by being ethical, open and transparent; maintains relationships and engages with local communities, to build a positive reputation at a local, national and international level.

Partnerships – works collaboratively to keep communities safe, sharing a collective responsibility to deliver preventative services that improve outcomes for individuals, increase resilience and address vulnerability.

Sustainability – adapts resources and plans for both current and future social, economic and financial circumstances, considering the environmental impact of policing and its operations.

People – values, supports, engages and empowers a diverse workforce to lead and deliver high quality services, with a focus on workforce development and overall wellbeing.

Evidence – uses evidence to innovate and develop services which address the current and emerging needs of individuals and local communities, and ensure that resources, capacity and skills are in the right place to deliver outcomes.

How we have incorporated the findings

Overall, the evidence shows that people with different equality characteristics can experience policing and crime differently. Different equality groups and communities can also have different needs and expectations from the police service. In order to be responsive and effective, the service will need to engage and collaborate with our diverse communities through their own planning and activities. A focus on flexibility within policing to adapt approaches to local communities, and on working together with partners and communities, were key themes to emerge from the consultation.

The SPPs have therefore been strengthened to reflect these points, in particular with addition of 'maintains relationships and engages with local communities' under the 'Confidence' priority. The 'Confidence' priority aims to ensure that public trust in the police is maintained and improved, and the varying needs and attitudes towards policing across the different equality groups will be important to consider in meeting this aim.

Under 'Crime and Security' we have retained the focus on equality and human rights in supporting criminal justice outcomes, while also making a revision to highlight that work to address crime should continue to have a local focus, alongside national approaches. The varying experiences of the different equality groups in relation to being victims, or perpetrators of crime, show that the policing system needs to maintain a focus on equality when preventing and tackling crime, and also when engaging with victims and offenders.

The remaining SPPs are intended to be broadly inclusive and supportive of equality issues, with the priorities focusing on 'Partnerships', 'People', and 'Evidence' being particularly relevant.

'Partnerships', highlights the importance of preventative approaches in delivering policing, working with partners collaboratively to support our diverse communities and address vulnerability. Findings from year 3 of the Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform thematic case study on Partnership, Innovation and Prevention highlighted that Police Scotland now have a focus on prevention and collaborative working, which provides opportunities to address issues relating to vulnerability in communities, and to work with partners to ensure vulnerable people and communities are supported. The 'Partnerships' priority links in with Police Scotland's Local Approaches to Policing programme, which recognises the increasing diversity of communities and that activities must reflect the needs and demands of all communities.

For 'Evidence', the design and delivery of the police service should be informed by the needs of individuals and communities, and make use of the evidence on the experiences of those from protected groups. Police Scotland's new performance framework should assist with this going forward, providing operational and corporate data on organisational performance as a whole.

On equality considerations relating to police officers and staff, the 'People' priority highlights the importance of engaging and empowering a diverse workforce. This connects with Police Scotland's People Strategy, which aims to develop a sustainable, diverse, multi-skilled and experienced workforce, while also strengthening the diversity of the whole workforce and changing the workforce mix to address the evolving needs and complexities of our diverse communities. We have also revised this 'People' priority to include a reference to workforce wellbeing, to help ensure appropriate and effective support is offered to police officers and staff.

We fully expect further impact assessments to be carried out by the SPA and Police Scotland in the development of their Strategic Police Plan, due to be revised next year, and their Annual Police Plan. The range of programmes and activities within Serving a Changing Scotland, Police Scotland's current 10 year plan, are all subject to a comprehensive Equality and Human Rights based impact assessment. Police Scotland also have governance structures in place on equality issues, including an Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy Group and two tactical groups (one focusing on staff inclusion and employment, and the other on service delivery).The SPA[18] and Police Scotland[19] both publish progress reports against their respective equality outcomes.

Recommendations and Conclusions

We have used the views expressed through our consultation, alongside the data presented, to help us further develop the focus of the Strategic Police Priorities, including in relation to equality issues. The SPPs have retained a direct reference to equality and human rights, and revisions have been made to ensure there is a stronger focus within the priorities on understanding and responding to the needs of local communities. We have also maintained a focus on collaboration, including ensuring effective partnerships are in place to enable the service to help address vulnerability.

As a package, the Strategic Police Priorities are intended to be inclusive and supportive of all communities in Scotland and make clear that, to improve safety and wellbeing, police services need to be accessible, transparent, and responsive for people with all equality characteristics.

As emphasised above, the implementation and delivery of the Strategic Police Priorities rests with the SPA and Police Scotland, who will give effect to them through their planning and operational activities. Further impact assessments on equalities will therefore be carried out by Police Scotland and the SPA to support the development of their Strategic Police Plan and Annual Police Plan.



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