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Michael Matheson to give statement on Police Scotland summer controversies

Published 03/09/2015

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last week announced he will stand down earlier than expected
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last week announced he will stand down earlier than expected
Michael Matheson

Michael Matheson will address MSPs on the multiple controversies that have engulfed Police Scotland during Holyrood's summer recess.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last week announced he will stand down earlier than expected following sustained public and political criticism over stop and search, call-centre failings, armed police, allegations of centralisation and an £11 million budget shortfall.

Two independent reports into stop and search and police call handling will be published today ahead of a statement by Scotland's Justice Secretary Mr Matheson to Holyrood this afternoon.

Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will publish its review of call handling and processes within Police Scotland's contact, command and control centres following the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell, who lay undiscovered for three days despite a sighting of their wrecked car being reported to a police call centre.

The Stop and Search Advisory Group, chaired by solicitor advocate John Scott QC, is also expected to make recommendations on the controversial practice of seeking consensual searches of children and present a code of practice on the use of stop and search in general.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stated her "determination to ensure that our police service is efficient and effective, and that it also commands the trust and confidence of the public" in her programme for government on Tuesday.

She said: "Following the chief constable's announcement last week that he will step down on December 1, the process of appointing a new chief constable is now under way.

"I can also confirm that, following an open public appointments process, a new chair of the Scottish Police Authority will be named later this week.

"I can announce today that we will use the opportunity of this appointment to undertake a review of police governance at national level - to ensure that early experience from the operation of the SPA and Police Scotland is acted upon to strengthen the system for the future.

"We will also take steps to enhance the accountability and scrutiny of policing at a local level. For example, there will be a new requirement on the chief constable to attend local public scrutiny sessions.

"A local scrutiny summit to be held this month will identify further ways to enhance local accountability. Local scrutiny committees, together with members of the public and the parliament, will also have an important role to play in updating our national policing priorities.

"We will also ensure implementation of any recommendations from the HMICS review of call handling.

"I can confirm that we will introduce a statutory code of practice on stop and search. The Justice Secretary will provide more detail on these matters in a statement to Parliament."

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