Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) have today launched their Gaelic Language Plans spanning the coming five years.
Police Scotland officers will be encouraged to learn Gaelic and the service’s vehicles rebranded as part of an initiative to help promote the language within the national force.
From 2017, the corporate logo will appear in English and Gaelic, while opportunities are also being explored for the public to communicate with the force using the language.
While the language plans are said to be “cost neutral”, they have been criticised as a “distraction” for a force facing increasing budgetary pressures.
Vehicles in Police Scotland’s N Division (Highlands and Islands), including the force helicopter, already carry “Poileas Alba” branding.
However under the language plan, the force hopes to identify officers who speak Gaelic or wish to learn the language.
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Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Cowie said: “Following a successful public consultation, I am delighted the joint Police Scotland and Scottish Police Authority Gaelic Language Plan is being launched.
“The importance of upholding traditional and native languages cannot be underestimated and as a police service we recognise Gaelic as an important aspect of Scotland’s heritage. It also has a significant role to play in the overall wellbeing of communities and the country as a whole.
“I look forward with great enthusiasm to taking on the recommendations contained in the plan and developing the service’s involvement with Gaelic speakers and communities where Gaelic is the dominant tongue.”
It is a statutory requirement for all Scottish public bodies to have a Gaelic language plan. But Douglas Ross MSP, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said the force had bigger problems to worry about. He said: “Police Scotland are facing a number of challenges at the moment, none of which will be solved by having a Gaelic action plan. “Gaelic is an important part of the fabric in some communities but in many parts of Scotland people have little or no connection with it. Where the language is regularly spoken, the police already use Gaelic.
“This national plan will only serve as a distraction at a time when we should be concentrating on improving policing in Scotland. “Rather than waste time and effort on this, they should be attempting to tackle the staffing and funding issues currently facing the force.” David Boag, director of language planning at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We very much welcome the publication of Police Scotland’s Gaelic Language Plan, given the central and important part they play in daily life within communities the length and breadth of the country. “Gaelic-speaking police officers and support staff are already offering valuable Gaelic language services to members of the public on a regular basis and this plan aims to identify, secure and build upon these opportunities wherever and whenever possible.”