The Scotsman, building their piece around Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur, wrote with wrong-headed hyperbole set to stun:
‘MSP urges independent review of crisis-hit police: Police Scotland today faces calls for an independent review into its operation in order to trigger an “honest conversation” about where it has gone wrong over the last five years. For five stormy years, Police Scotland has been mired in controversies that have seen the departure of two chief constables, rows over police accountability and concern over operational policing.’
Informed by Tory MSP, Margaret Mitchell, BBC Scotland wrote:
‘Police Scotland in particular has faced criticism over a number of issues. The service is currently looking for its third chief, while the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – one of several bodies created by the legislation – is on its third chief and third chairperson.’
STV News added Scottish Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson who said:
‘The committee must assess how this turmoil has affected policing and public safety.The SNP Government must acknowledge these issues and their own mistakes to improve Police Scotland over the next five years, rather than the same old intransigence they have shown over the past five years.’
STV, to be fair, did insert this telling little snippet at the end:
‘Despite criticism, national statistics published this week show crime in Scotland has fallen by around a third and 58% of respondents said police were doing a good or excellent job.’
The above comment only in the STV report reminds us of the key indicator of success by any police force – levels of crime.
I’m not saying the cases of spying and the instability in the top post don’t matter but they and the cases of failure, in two specific cases, matter much less than the overall performance of the force as evidenced in crime levels experienced across millions of citizens. Looking at the graph, above, we see crime continue to fall fast after the creation of Police Scotland. This is not evidence of a ‘crisis-hit’ service, or of ‘stormy years’ or of ‘turmoil’.
If crime continues to fall fast, most of us are satisfied and all we see wrong is a change in leadership and two sad but rare failures, then Police Scotland is a success.