Anger at base over Chief Constable’s ‘institutional racism’
The Police Federation of Scotland said the outgoing chief constable’s comment would make the job “more difficult” and damage police relations with the communities they serve.
A former officer said the comments would “set back policing and police relations in Scotland by a decade”.
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On Thursday morning, in his final appearance before the Scottish Police Authority board, Sir Iain said he had “great confidence in the character and values” of his officers and staff.
“However, it is right for me, right for me as chief constable, to state clearly that there is institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination.”
“Police Scotland are institutionally racist and discriminatory.
“Public acknowledgment of these institutional issues is essential to our absolute commitment to advocating for equality and becoming an anti-racist service. It is also critical to our resolve to bring about broader change in society.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Scottish Police Federation leader David Threadgold said the chief had failed to get his message across.
“The vast majority of police officers who heard the Chief Constable’s words yesterday, and by extension members of the public, believe that the Chief Constable has identified and labeled them as institutionally racist. That’s just not the case.
“And the distinction, the nuance that the chief constable is trying to make between organizational issues and individual collective responsibility, was missed in the submission.”
He added: “That’s a really important distinction because I think the role of police officers in communities now is complicated by the Chief Constable’s comments.” That’s because they hear him speak and they don’t hear that distinction either will do.
“So when they patrol the streets of Scotland this weekend, they will be seen by the public, they will make a connection to the fact that the Chief Constable has said that as an organization we are institutionally racist and that will be the case .” make our work more difficult.”
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Calum Steele, the former general secretary of the SPF, described the comments as “a kick in the solar plexus for police officers across Scotland”.
He said the comments would “set back policing and police relations in Scotland by a decade”.
Speaking to the BBC, Sir Iain said he could understand why his statement was difficult to understand.
He added: “It’s hard to say.
“As I said, I’ve been a police officer myself for almost 31 years and my loyalty to my colleagues, officers and staff I’ve worked with for many, many years, people I know, I know their qualities, I know them.” their values and it’s hard to hear.
“But you must be aware of what I’m actually saying. I’m not judging officials and staff, I’m more looking at the organization I’m responsible for and it has actually taken some time to get that acceptance and that realization for the reasons I’ve given.”
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Sir Iain stressed that he was “not condemning colleagues” nor did he say that “no progress has been made since the 1990s”.
“Could I have done that earlier? Could I myself be able to accept and acknowledge institutional discrimination?
“Well, maybe, maybe I could have, and I accept that.
“But what I can say is that I have always been committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion – we are now far more represented in policing than ever before.
“There is still work to be done, but I believe I am leaving the organization in a far better place than I found it.”
Sir Iain insisted his testimony did not represent a failure of his leadership, adding: “I will be stepping down later in August after having been chief of police for almost six years. I think we have put Police Scotland in a far more stable position.”
He said that of more than 570 murders since Police Scotland was founded ten years ago, only one has gone undetected and described the service’s track record as “extremely impressive”.