Uncertainty surrounds potential expansion of North East Policing Pilot across Scotland


QUESTIONS loom over the possibility of extending a controversial policing pilot from the North East to the entirety of Scotland, as the responsible minister, Angela Constance, provided ambiguous responses during a session at Holyrood on Wednesday.

In September, Police Scotland, citing budget constraints, declared that certain North East crimes lacking “associated threat, risk, harm or vulnerability” or “proportionate lines of inquiry” would not be subject to investigation. The Scottish Government assured that the outcomes of this pilot initiative would be scrutinised to ensure local priorities were maintained without adversely affecting communities.

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However, during the recent session, Angela Constance, the SNP minister, disclosed that she had not discussed the project since September 14. She refrained from providing clarity on how the trial’s success would be evaluated or whether it could be expanded across Scotland.

In response to questions from Liam Kerr, North East region MSP, about the criteria for determining the pilot’s success, Constance emphasised that Police Scotland would persist in investigating all crime reports across the country. She underscored that the operational response of Police Scotland rests with the Chief Constable.

Kerr expressed concerns about the impact of frontline service cuts on the trial and urged transparency in communicating the results to the public. He noted, “Officer numbers are at their lowest across Scotland since 2008, and this has unquestionably had a bearing on this trial. The least the public can expect is that police honesty being reciprocated by Scottish Ministers, and some expectation when results will be published.”

The pilot’s approach sparked controversy earlier due to concerns from victims of crime feeling abandoned and a perceived rise in criminal activities. The lack of a definitive stance from the Scottish Government regarding the potential nationwide implementation of the pilot raises questions about the future direction of local policing strategies. As discussions continue, the need for transparency and clear communication regarding the pilot’s outcomes remains crucial.

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