Comment: Communities not consulted before policing decision

ONE of the criticisms levelled at Police Scotland was that it made decisions and took actions without bringing the public with it.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 10:40 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 11:42 am
File picture: Steven Scott Taylor
File picture: Steven Scott Taylor

The change in the deployment of armed officers – to respond to incidents that did not need armed response – is a good case in point. However with the departure of the former chief constable Sir Stephen House it was to be hoped lessons haad been learned.

Everyone accepts that the police have a diffucult and dangerous job, and it is known that, like many others, they are under pressure on their budgets.

And the new chief constable Phil Gormley will have his own priorities and iniatitves as well as the pressures on him, and will be asking his senior officers to do certain things differently.

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But it seems like a big mistake to have decided to change community policing in Edinburgh without speaking to the communities or community representatives. It smacks of a Police Scotland we hoped had changed.

And there is the fact that the plan only became widely known about after Inch Community Association was told about the cuts in that area.

Edinburgh police commander Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald says that “policing teams” were consulted and that “stakeholders” will be consulted “going forward” but some “interim changes” need to be made now. That all amounts to an admission that communities have not been consulted before action was decided.

It may be that switching some officers from community policing to a response role does deliver the best results for the police force, and therefore for the people they protect and serve. But it is a change that people will notice and need to know about and should not be presented as a fait accompli.

Let’s have meaningful consultation before any officer has his job changed.