We need a wider inquiry into Police Scotland

In 2012 I warned the previous First Minister Alex Salmond about the closure of police call centres. He laughed and said I was “spreading gloom and doom”.

After the closure of the Glenrothes and Stirling control rooms, calls from people in Fife and other parts of Scotland were transferred to staff at the Bilston Glen control room.

Since then, I have been contacted by a number of police officers and civilian staff concerned over the increased pressure that this change had put on the call handling process.

We were told of staff shortages meaning that police officers were forced to cover extra shifts at the call centre without proper training. We discovered that people making 999 and 101 calls had to wait minutes to speak to an operator.

I spent the spring of this year bringing these concerns to the Scottish Government’s attention. Were they taken seriously?

It took the tragic deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill on the side of the M9 in Stirling before we started to get real action.

Now the inspector of constabulary has uncovered appalling failures including insufficient staff, inadequate oversight, low staff morale and calls being recorded on scribble pads.

The inspector’s verdict on Bilston Glen was stark. He said “there were insufficient staff available in Bilston Glen when work transferred from Stirling and Glenrothes in early 2015, resulting in low levels of performance.”

SNP ministers’ handling of Police Scotland has been casual and cavalier, undermining the excellent work of police officers and civilian staff.

We can’t allow things to carry on with denial and bluster from government ministers. They have got it so wrong on so many things.

The case for a wider inquiry into the operations of Police Scotland is now overwhelming.

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