Tories defeated in bid to delay British Transport Police merger
Holyrood has voted against putting the integration of transport policing in Scotland on hold. Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr had told MSPs it is “time to pause” the merger, labelling as “unachievable” the planned April 2019 date for the full integration of British Transport Police (BTP) north of the Border with Police Scotland. He urged MSPs to back a review to examine whether the aims of the merger can be reached in an alternative way with “fewer risks” and highlighted the importance of railway policing to public safety, particularly terrorism.
Tories demand investigation into Matheson and Gormley Police Scotland row
The Tories have demanded an independent investigation be carried out over Justice Secretary Michael Matheson preventing Scotland’s top police officer from returning to work while misconduct allegations are being probed. Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell claimed that intervention was “without doubt the most serious example of the SNP Government’s abuse of power”. Matheson had raised questions with watchdogs at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) after they informed him a decision had been made to end Chief Constable Phil Gormley’s leave of absence.
Suspects to have extra rights after change to laws
New rules on the arrest and questioning of suspects have come into force amid concerns from solicitors about their impact. The changes under the Criminal Justice Act will give everyone being held in police custody the right to speak to a solicitor, regardless of whether they are going to be interviewed. Lawyers have raised concerns about the potential impact on workload, with bar associations across Scotland indicating they will boycott the new police station duty solicitor scheme.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley faces complaint over dishonesty
A fresh complaint has been made against Scotland’s highest-ranking police officer. Chief Constable Phil Gormley has been on special leave since last September while allegations of bullying, which he denies, are investigated. A new complaint, this time for dishonesty, has been raised against the chief constable. It is understood to have been lodged by the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, and is thought to relate to Mr Gormley’s behaviour at an internal meeting. It is the seventh complaint lodged against Mr Gormley but the first for dishonesty.
Transport police merger ‘will not be possible’ in Scotland by 2019 deadline
A full policing merger in Scotland is proving “challenging and complicated” as the national force looks at alternative options, MSPs have been told. Police Scotland is examining proposals which avoid a total union with the British Transport Police (BTP) north of the border following issues with integration of IT systems and officers’ terms and conditions and pensions. Chief Superintendent John McBride said in a statement to BTP staff that any full merger “will not be possible” by the April 2019 deadline. He confirmed Police Scotland has put forward an “operational integration” alternative – leading to the single force taking over railway policing and all BTP staff but relying on BTP for support in areas such as technology, funding and data access. But Chief Supt McBride said that even the alternative proposal presents “real challenges to deliver the outcomes of the project”.
MSPs tell Matheson to minute future police meetings
MSPs have rebuked Justice Secretary Michael Matheson over a lack of transparency in his work with the police oversight body, and demanded he minute all meetings in future. In a Holyrood debate, the Scottish Tories demanded a “full and independent investigation” into Mr Matheson intervening in a decision of the Scottish Police Authority in November. After he asked the SPA to “reconsider” its decision to reinstate absentee Chief Constable Phil Gormley despite bullying allegations against him, the SPA performed a swift U-turn.
MSPs to consider lifting blanket ban on prison voting
A Holyrood committee will consider if offenders in Scotland‘s jails should still face the “civic death” of a ban on voting. Members of the Scottish Parliament‘s Equalities and Human Rights Committee will re-examine the case for a ban on inmates voting, before making recommendations to ministers. It comes after Green MSP Patrick Harvie called for alternatives to the current blanket ban to be considered. The committee will hear about what happened in two countries where prisoners are allowed to vote, Ireland and Canada.
New rules for police on the questioning of suspects come into force
New rules on the arrest and questioning of suspects have come into force amid concerns from solicitors about their impact. The changes under the Criminal Justice Act will give everyone being held in police custody the right to speak to a solicitor, regardless of whether they are going to be interviewed. Lawyers have raised concerns about the potential impact on workload, with bar associations across Scotland indicating they will boycott the new police station duty solicitor scheme. The Scottish Legal Aid Board (Slab), which is responsible for ensuring suspects have access to legal advice, said measures were in place to address the concerns of private solicitors.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley faces fresh complaint
The leadership crisis at the top of Police Scotland took a fresh twist last night when it emerged a new complaint has been made against sidelined Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
The Scottish Police Federation has lodged the complaint with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) amid claims of dishonesty at a key meeting. Mr Gormley is already on special leave while four other probes are undertaken by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) into claims of bullying. The issue will come under the spotlight at Holyrood today when former SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan and ex-chief executive John Foley appear before MSPs on the Public Audit committee. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson yesterday defended his handling of the turmoil at the new national police force.
Seventh complaint made against Scotland’s chief constable
A seventh complaint has been made against Scotland’s highest-ranking police officer, STV News can reveal. Chief constable Phil Gormley has been on special leave since September while a series of accusations of gross misconduct are investigated, which he denies. The new complaint was lodged by the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, and alleges “dishonesty” at an important internal police meeting.
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