Police Scotland deputy says ‘significant progress’ being made on morale concerns

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Police Scotland has begun to address concerns surrounding morale following a scathing assessment from the organisation representing rank and file officers, MSPs have been told.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said many officers were too “scunnered” by their working conditions to raise grievances as they believe nothing will change.

However the senior police officer standing in for the chief constable admitted that while “we did not do enough to bring our people with us”, significant progress was now being made.

Deputy Chief Constable Designate Iain Livingstone was appearing before Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing to answer questions on the force’s procedures for internal complaints.

The SPF highlighted a recent staff survey in which only 8% of officers said they believed the service was genuinely interested in their well-being.

The organisation said the small number of grievances being raised by officers indicated ” a fundamental lack of confidence” in the complaints process.

Meanwhile Unison, the main union for police staff, said it believed there were still gaps in the provisions for internal complaints.

DCC Livingstone said: “I do recognise the SPF presented quite a challenging position – I am not in any way saying there concerns lack validity, what I am saying is we have begun to address them.”

He said while the force had got things wrong in the past, “t here is an opportunity now to say, actually, a sustainable organisation is only going to last if we are investing in our people.”

“I think we’ve made significant progress in recent months, years,” he added.

DCC Livingstone said regular meetings with the SPF are being held to pick up their concerns.

The Professional Standards department within the force has been restructured, while the Counter-Corruption Unit (CCU) has been renamed the Anti-Corruption Unit , he added.

The CCU was overhauled following a string of allegations raised against its officers and a row over data breaches linked to journalists’ sources.

ACC Livingstone said: “My observations were that it (CCU) lost its focus.”

He added: “The Anti-Corruption Unit now falls to my remit.

“I have a complete oversight of the functions and capabilities and critically I… am very intrusive to quite a tactical level.

“I, on a weekly basis, sit with the Anti-Corruption Unit and go through their casework and make sure that they are acting at all times in a lawful, necessary, and, the key thing for me, a proportionate manner.

“I think it’s in a different place.”

ACC Livingstone announced at the start of the week he would postpone his plans to retire while claims of gross misconduct against the chief constable P hil Gormley are being looked into .

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) confirmed on Friday it was investigating a new allegation of gross misconduct by Mr Gormley, in addition to one announced in July.

Mr Gormley has been granted ”special leave” while the two allegations, which he denies, are investigated.