Scottish Government to review police vetting after damning report

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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‚Äôs 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.

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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‚Äôs 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.

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