Police Scotland recruits withdrew after chief said force was racist
Police Scotland recruits turn their backs on the force after chief constable calls it institutionally racist, watchdog reveals
Potential police recruits withdrew their job applications after the force’s chief constable said it was institutionally racist, a watchdog has disclosed.
The comments by Sir Iain Livingstone sparked a public backlash and were responsible for a slump in morale among rank-and-file officers, according to a damning report.
Sir Iain, who has since retired, told a public board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority in May that it was ‘right for [him]… to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist’.
Current Chief Constable Jo Farrell reiterated her predecessor’s claim of endemic racism in the ranks when she took up the post in October.
Craig Naylor – His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland – said Sir Iain’s statement had left many officers feeling ‘disenchanted’.
Potential police recruits withdrew their job applications after the force’s chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone (pictured) said it was institutionally racist, a watchdog has disclosed
In his excoriating report into how Police Scotland is run, he said the comments led to public ‘negativity’ towards officers and their families.
READ MORE: Police Scotland is ‘institutionally racist and discriminatory’, outgoing chief constable admits after report uncovered accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia by serving officers
Mr Naylor said some prospective officers had scrapped applications, blaming Sir Iain’s comments as the reason they were turning their back on a career in the police.
Last night Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: ‘It is concerning that these public statements appear to have had a negative impact on recruitment at a time when Police Scotland are already struggling with recruitment, retention and a lack of resources due to SNP cuts. Rank and file officers who keep us safe should not suffer a public backlash due to sweeping statements made from on high.’
Mr Naylor has reported on the ‘organisational culture’ of Police Scotland since its formation a decade ago and looked at the fallout from Sir Iain’s comments.
He said: ‘The [former] Chief Constable’s statement on institutional discrimination was made during our fieldwork period, allowing us to assess the reaction of officers and staff.
‘We found the statement had a very mixed response, with some welcoming it and others clearly not recognising the description of the environment in which they worked.
‘Many felt the statement had ‘come out of the blue’ and had not been well consulted on or evidenced, prior to its launch.’
Mr Naylor said the statement ‘had left many feeling disempowered and disenchanted’, adding: ‘There have since been anecdotal reports of widespread negativity toward police officers and their relatives.
Craig Naylor – His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland – said Sir Iain’s statement had left many officers feeling ‘disenchanted’ (File image of police recruits in Scotland)
‘We also found evidence of an increase in withdrawals from the recruitment process and ‘offers declined by applicant’ for the May 2023 intake of probationers, attributed to the announcement.’
Mr Naylor’s team sought views from staff and officers across the organisation, receiving more than 260 responses. The report stated the ‘overwhelming feeling was that the size and scale of the organisation inhibits its ability to treat officers and staff as individuals’.
Deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs said Police Scotland will ‘consider how this report can further inform our commitment to a culture of continuous improvement across everything we do’.
Justice Secretary Angela Constance said: ‘This report shows the progress in organisational culture that has been made since the establishment of the single service.’
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