Edinburgh’s new top cop is a man of musical and sporting talents

EDINBURGH’S new top cop Sean Scott is clearly a man of many talents.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 10:23 am
Chief Superintendent Sean Scott outside St Leonard's Police Station, Edinburgh. Pic:
 Neil Hanna Photography
Chief Superintendent Sean Scott outside St Leonard's Police Station, Edinburgh. Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

A former professional musician whose band once toured with blues legend BB King, he also represented Scotland under-21s at rugby.

The gifted drummer now hopes such all-rounded life experience will help on his new beat – as the Capital’s commander.

“I think it gives you a wider appreciation of society,” says the 54-year-old at his office in St Leonard’s police station.

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Chief Superintendent Sean Scott playing drums

“Having distractions from the job – music, sport – it does give you a good work-life balance. I don’t think it does you any harm to have those hobbies and distractions.

“I think it’s important, especially in this day and age where working life can be high-pressured and stressful, that people have clear diversions away from their working life and make time to do these things.

“I think it makes you a more productive employee when you do turn your mind to your job.

“And also for your family life and your social life you can take yourself away from what is technically a 24-hour occupation.

Matt Scott in action for Edinburgh

“When you’re on call you do have responsibility 24 hours a day because of the type of job you do. You do need to be able to switch off.”

Originally from Fife, Mr Scott considers himself a “naturalised Edinburgher”, having lived in the city for 30 years.

“What’s not to like about Edinburgh,” enthuses the married father-of-three. “It’s just a vibrant place. I love the cultural side of it, the festival side and just love the general vibe of the place, the history of it, it’s just a great place isn’t it?

“Having lived here a long time, I love the fact it’s an iconic world-renowned city but still got that village feel in some ways.”

The whole Scott family is immersed in rugby union, chief superintendent Scott having turned out at fullback for Dunfermline and Currie in the then amateur days of the sport.

Oldest son, Matt Scott, is a full international and Edinburgh centre, having represented his country 39 times while younger brother Fergus played for Glasgow Warriors.

So could Dad have made it as a pro? “Would I cut it as a professional, who knows, I’d like to think so,” he says, only half-joking.

Nowadays his contribution is strictly administrative, taking up the role of rugby board chair at Currie Rugby Club this season.

Music is also still very much close to his heart. “I was a professional musician for a while,” he reflects, on an 80s heyday with acclaimed outfit Blues N Trouble.

“I still play drums as a hobby now and will be doing some festival shows, we’ve done it for the last few years.

“We had quite a bit of success but then reality kicked in and I had to get a decent job and I was married by that point.”

So he joined the then Lothian and Borders force in 1990 – first as a PC based out of the West End, then mostly CID roles for the next few years.

“I’d always been attracted by policing. I was going to be a PE teacher and had a place at college but then I decided to give policing a go.

“I’m glad I did because it’s been a great career and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a very sociable job, you meet people and there’s a huge diversity of the types of disciplines you can go into.

“I didn’t go into the job thinking I’d be a detective, be this or that. I thought it’s a worthwhile public service and I like being around people – not an obvious thing to do but an attractive thing to do. It was one of those ones where as soon as I started, I was glad I did it. I’ve never looked 

His crime-busting career as a detective saw him work on murder inquiries, covert drugs busts and anti-corruption.

He helped design Police Scotland’s current Specialist Crime Division – including crack murder and counter-terrorism teams. “Jack of all trades, master of none,” he jokes.

Then came the call from the chief constable to step into the city’s top job. “I was at home when I got the phone call,” he recalls.

“My family are very proud, it’s a high profile job. There was a bit of mickey taking. Boys will always take the mickey out of their dad, in a nice way.

“Because I’ve been a detective for a number of years, they were seeing me in a uniform for the first time since they were young boys, I’m normally in a suit and tie.”

And he cannot wait to get started. “29 years in the job gives you good preparation and a lot of experience in a number of fields.

“To come back and lead uniformed response, criminal investigation, partnership working and events policing is a great honour.”

Priorities include introducing the Contact Assessment Model early next year – directing callers to the services they need.

“With mental health issues or sick animals, we’re not the best people to go to sometimes. We can focus our time and efforts on the stuff we do best and what we’re trained 
to do.”

And from October, officers will be issued with mobile devices on which they can fill out crime reports in the street instead of having to go back to the station.

“The longer you can have officers out on the frontline doing what they need to do and engaging with the public and being visible, the better, clearly,” says Mr Scott.

Perhaps no surprise for someone used to working in a team, be it on stage or on the rugby field, he describes his style as “open and inclusive”.

He adds: “Everyone knows that if they’ve got an idea, they can chip in and I welcome it. I don’t want anyone to think they can’t come forward and contribute to the decision-making process but ultimately it’s my responsibility.”

Looking to the future, he adds: “Edinburgh still is a safe city but in terms of levels of crime and our response to it, we’re never going to be complacent.

“We do a really good job and couldn’t do it without our partners. I’m looking forward to working with them to do our best for Edinburgh.”