Police Scotland chief Stephen House under renewed pressure from politicians and rank-and-file officers

02/04/2015
CommonWeal

Willie Rennie says Lib Dems have lost confidence in police chief but Nicola Sturgeon gives cautious backing

THE HEAD of Police Scotland, Stephen House, is under renewed pressure after politicians and rank and file officers rounded on him at a conference.

At the Scottish Police Federation’s (SPF) annual gathering on Wednesday, the most powerful officer in the history of Scottish policing faced intense criticism over his handling of stop and search, armed police and a ‘targeted’ approach to polcing.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on House to “change his ways” or go, while Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said there were “questions” about his leadership.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon continued to back House but warned that no chief constable could be allowed to become a “law unto himself”.

As reported on CommonSpace, House had previously been slammed by MSPs for his “autocratic” style. (Click here to read more).

The SPF conference followed a damning report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) which concluded that it had no faith in the force’s data on the practice.

When a sergeant asked Sturgeon if “Team Police Scotland should expect a new manager”, the question received a large round of applause from the 200 officers present at the conference.

“I have confidence in the chief constable and I think the police should have confidence. No chief constable can ever be or allowed to be a law unto themselves. That is absolutely the position,” Sturgeon responded.

Rennie took a more hardline stance, stating that the Liberal Democrats have lost confidence in House.

“The system is clearly broken. We don’t have confidence in the chief constable. It’s difficult, in the list of things that I read out earlier on, to have confidence in him. If he doesn’t restore that confidence, if he doesn’t change his ways, then he’s going to have to change his job because he can’t carry on like this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy called for improvements but said that, from his time with police on patrol, he believed in the deterrent of stop and search.

Picture courtesy of PA