Chief constable not afraid of ruffling feathers - John McLellan

Police Scotland chief constable Jo FarrellPolice Scotland chief constable Jo Farrell
Police Scotland chief constable Jo Farrell
After negative headlines which have dogged Police Scotland’s new Chief Constable Jo Farrell in her first few months, she has got onto the front foot with a series of one-to-one media interviews which reveal someone who’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.

The interviews covered a lot of ground, from supporting the Hate Crime Act, despite the predictable wave of vexatious, politically-motivated complaints when it went live, to justifying the declaration that not every minor theft or housebreaking would be investigated.

But her forthright views on dealing with mental health emergencies won’t go unnoticed, accusing other public agencies of an “abdication of responsibility” for the care of their patients.

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“There are occasions – and we tend to see it at about four or five o’clock in the afternoon – where other agencies within the public sector haven’t got round to seeing their client, and then they’ll ring us and it’s down to us,” she said.

She estimates such calls take up the equivalent of 600 officers a year which she wants focussed on offences like domestic violence, but if the police no longer attend to every call for help, what happens if other support workers just look at the clock and shrug their shoulders?

What’s certain is that politicians can’t keep adding to the crimes they want policing and expect the same resources to cope as if nothing has changed. And they can’t order police to cover for other agencies when there is no criminality or threat to life involved. But the public needs answers.