Local people deserve to have their faith restored in Police Scotland. That’s the message from Scottish Labour Justice spokesperson, Graeme Pearson MSP, and Dumfriesshire MSP and Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Elaine Murray, following a public meeting in Dumfries on Thursday 17th September as part of Scottish Labour’s Police Scotland review.
The comprehensive review has been launched by former Senior Police Officer Graeme Pearson MSP, who has been tasked to assess the effectiveness of the single police force and propose bold reforms to restore local accountability and reverse the impact of damaging Scottish Government cuts to staff and services.
The meeting in Dumfries was attended by dozens of local people, including former staff of the Dumfries Police Control Room and former Police Officers.
Since the creation of the single force in 2013, local policing in Dumfries & Galloway has faced a series of scandals and controversies - including cuts to civilian staff and services, the local control room closure, a lack of transparency over stop and search and armed officers, and a severe lack of local knowledge from central belt call handlers when responding to incidents.
South of Scotland MSP and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Graeme Pearson said:
“My main objective in conducting this review of Police Scotland is to get out and speak to as many people as possible to learn of their experiences with local policing. It’s clear that from the public meeting held in Dumfries, local people have evidenced a lack of faith in the single police force. That evidence strengthens the fact that something has gone wrong with the implementation of Police Scotland, and that policing in Scotland needs put right. This isn’t a criticism of our police officers, who local people know are doing their best under very difficult circumstances. But the reality is that because of the Scottish Governments cuts to civilian staff, they simply aren’t doing the job they were trained for.”
Dumfriesshire MSP and Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Elaine Murray added:
“The sheer number of local people engaging in this debate just goes to show how frustrated we all are at what has happened to local policing under the Scottish Government. We heard from former call handlers, who sadly lost their jobs when the Dumfries Police Control Room was closed, about the severe lack of local knowledge of operators in the centralised control rooms; from former Police Officers, who told us all of a time not so long ago when police officers actually used to do the job they were trained for, instead of constantly working in the back office due to a lack of civilian staff. This can’t go on. Local people and Police Scotland staff deserve better.”