The report does not use the word ‘systemic’ to indicate any deep, pervasive, problem, at all. It’s not a word you bandy around unless you can really back it up with hard evidence. Only Justice committee convener Margaret Mitchell MSP (Conservative & Unionist) uses that word in an interview. The headline is simply a lie.
Hmm one of those impartial conveners we rely on?
From the Holyrood Justice Committee report:
A review into the 2012 Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act – one of the biggest transformations of a public service since devolution – has concluded that, despite challenges, the reform has led to greater consistency of service across Scotland. This has particularly benefitted victims of crimes such as domestic or sexual abuse. Unification has also resulted in more equal access to specialist capabilities and support across both Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, two new reports from Holyrood’s Justice Committee have revealed. This has helped in areas such as more complex serious crime and extreme events.’
That is a very encouraging opening statement which, had there been systemic problems identified, would have mentioned them.
The report did identify areas for improvement:
During its review, the Committee found that, despite an improving picture, further changes should be made to areas including:
- The police complaints processes should be overhauled, to create a more equitable, clear and fair system.
• The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) should take a more proactive role in its oversight and scrutiny of new Police Scotland policies.
• Suggested options to include the Scottish Parliament in the appointment process of the SPA chair should be explored.
• The SPA and Police Scotland should demonstrate that recent improvements in their leadership and governance mean that previous shortcomings caused by personality issues could not reoccur.
• Police financial projections for the future should be more robust, taking into account known challenges.
• There should be a rethink of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s ‘retained duty service’, which is no longer fit for purpose. This should consider pay, training and responsibilities of ‘duty’ firefighters.
I spent nearly 40 years in education, convening, writing, reading and responding to reports of inspection of some kind. I’ve seen far, far, worse still not using the word ‘systemic’. I’ve seen none without a list of things to improve. All of the above are typical of large organisations and so doable as to be, of course, not newsworthy.