Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray yesterday raised the matter of local accountability when armed police are deployed on routine patrols with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill. Questioning Mr MacAskill after his statement to Parliament, Dr Murray pointed out that, unlike the former constabularies in Strathclyde, Northern and Tayside, armed police had never been used on routine operations in Dumfries and Galloway prior to the advent of Police Scotland. She argued that local elected representatives should, on behalf of their constituents, be kept informed about such operations.
Speaking after the statement to Parliament Elaine Murray said:
"I was disappointed but not surprised that the Cabinet Secretary failed to answer my question. Yet again decisions have been made about local policing without any consultation with local communities or their elected representatives. When I made a request to Polcie Scotland for information about how armed police were being deployed in my constituency a couple of weeks ago, a press release issued on behalf of the Chief Constable Sir Stephen House accused me of policitcal interfence.
"This is not a matter of wanting politicians to make decisions which ought to be made by the Chief Constable - no-one wants that. But our constituents expect us to respond to their concerns and to do do so there must be accountability and transparency both locally and nationally. There is a sad lack of either in Police Scotland as it currently operates."