COMPLAINTS against the police have risen twice as fast in the east of Scotland as the rest of the country since the single force came into being, reinforcing concerns about “Glasgowfication” of policing in the Capital.
Politicians said they feared the introduction here of policing tactics associated with Strathclyde Police could be behind the increase.
New figures show an 8.3 per cent rise in complaint cases recorded in the East region – which includes Edinburgh and the Lothians – in the 12 months to March, while the force’s other two regions saw much lower rises – three per cent in the West and 3.4 per cent in the North.
Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat said: “The question I have is: Have the Edinburgh complaints gone up because the style of policing has changed?”
There have been constant concerns since Police Scotland was formed last year, with former Strathclyde chief constable Sir Stephen House at the helm, about Glasgow-style policing methods allegedly being imported to the Capital.
These have included a crackdown on saunas, an increase in the use of stop-and-search powers and, most recently, the arming of officers on routine patrol.
Mike Bridgman, convener of the council’s police scrutiny committee, said: “There has been change in policing in general and in people’s perceptions of the police – and that could well be a contributory factor to this. Constituents keep talking to me about ‘Strathscotland police’.”
The statistics show complaints cases recorded in the East region rose from 1260 to 1365 last year. In Edinburgh, complaints totalled 521.
Police Scotland pointed out that if the figures were taken on a three-year average, there had been a decrease in complaints of 4.1 per cent.
Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said: “Any increase is not due to a change in policing approach or style. Indeed, if this was the case quality of service complaints would have increased and this has not happened. I am delighted to see that over the last three years the average number of complaints continues to fall.”
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins today fuelled the controversy over armed police, claiming Scotland faced a firearms threat and insisting the public supported the move.
But Tory justice spokesman Margaret Mitchell said: “Gun crime is at an all-time low, so why the sudden deployment of armed officers?”