The Scottish Government has said it will consider any recommendations made to improve police vetting procedures, after a review found not all police officers in Scotland have appropriate records.
What did the review find?
- The review was conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and published on Tuesday.
- It found that there were significant gaps in the vetting records of police officers and staff, and that some had no vetting record at all.
- It also found that the vetting process was inconsistent, inefficient and lacked oversight.
- It said that the risks of having unvetted or poorly vetted officers and staff included corruption, compromise and damage to public confidence.
How did the Scottish Government respond?
- The Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, said he was concerned by the findings and that he would consider any recommendations made by HMICS.
- He said that the Scottish Government was committed to ensuring that Police Scotland had the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.
- He also said that he had confidence in the Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, and his senior team to address the issues raised by the review.
What did Police Scotland say?
- Police Scotland said it accepted the findings and recommendations of the review and that it was working to improve its vetting processes.
- It said that it had already implemented some changes, such as centralising the vetting function and introducing a new vetting policy and guidance.
- It also said that it was developing a new vetting system that would be more robust, transparent and accountable.
What did the opposition parties say?
- The Scottish Conservatives said the review was a damning indictment of the SNP’s handling of policing and that it exposed a serious security risk.
- They said that the Justice Secretary should apologise for the failures and ensure that all police officers and staff were properly vetted.
- The Scottish Labour said the review was a shocking revelation and that it undermined the trust and confidence of the public and the police workforce.
- They said that the Justice Secretary should take responsibility for the problems and guarantee that they would be fixed as soon as possible.
What are the implications of the review?
- The review has highlighted the challenges and complexities of vetting police officers and staff in a modern and diverse society.
- It has also raised questions about the effectiveness and accountability of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority, which are responsible for overseeing and scrutinising the police service.
- It has called for a cultural change within the police service, where vetting is seen as a core function and a professional responsibility.
- It has recommended a range of actions to improve the vetting process, such as reviewing the vetting standards, enhancing the vetting training and monitoring the vetting performance.
What will happen next?
- The review has set out a timeline for implementing the recommendations, with some expected to be completed by the end of this year and others by the end of 2024.
- The review has also requested a progress report from Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority by March 2024, which will be published by HMICS.
- The review has stressed the importance of engaging with the police workforce, the public and other stakeholders to ensure that the vetting process is fit for purpose and respects the rights and privacy of individuals.