Scottish graduate's ambition to join police crushed because estranged dad has record

JAMIE Duff set his sights on a career in the police soon after leaving university '“ but he has been turned down twice because of his estranged dad's criminal record.

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 12:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 12:59 pm

Now Police Scotland has been accused of a “Dickensian” approach to vetting and urged to rethink their policy.

Jamie, 24, a music graduate from East Craigs, has never been in trouble. But when he applied to join the force he got a call asking about his relationship with his father, quickly followed by an email saying he had been rejected. When he appealed he was told it was because of “third party association”.

Jamie said he did not live with his dad when he was growing up.

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This is Jamie Duff who is being blocked from joining the police because of his estranged dad's criminal convictions.
This is Jamie Duff who is being blocked from joining the police because of his estranged dad's criminal convictions.

“I never actually spent a night in his care,” he said. “He comes round briefly at Christmas, but I don’t see him much at all.”

After his first rejection Jamie applied to be a special constable, hoping that could provide another route into the force. But he was rejected again. “Obviously I was very disappointed,” he said. “I was told I couldn’t do something I had always wanted to do, but not based on anything I have ever done.

“I might understand it if I was related to the Kray twins, but it seems a little heavy-handed.”

Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton raised Jamie’s case at questions in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. “This is not a restriction which applies in other parts of the UK,” he said.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said vetting was as an operational matter for the police, but acknowledged it included looking at relatives and friends. “Where there is information these third parties have convictions police consider carefully whether this relationship is likely to compromise the applicant or compromise the operations or reputation of Police Scotland.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said Police Scotland had confirmed to him it was Jamie’s father’s criminal record which was the problem in his case and indicated that even the limited contact he had with his dad was enough to count as associating with known criminals.

Mr Cole-Hamilton told the News: “I don’t think it’s fair children should be held responsible for the sins of their parents.

“That’s effectively a sanction on his life chances for something he has never done or been party to.

“In modern Scotland, the fact we employ such a Dickensian approach, judging people on the sins of their parents, makes a mockery of our attempts to allow people to fulfil their own potential.

“He is a decent lad who wants a career in public service. It’s wholly unfair he should be hamstrung like this.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland’s vetting procedures closely follow the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice used by police forces throughout the UK.

“Our assessment of risk can include third parties connected to an applicant who wishes to join Police Scotland. For reasons of data protection, we cannot comment on individual cases.”