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Call to postpone Chief Constable appointment

July 29, 2012 12:04 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP has today called for the recruitment process of the new Chief Constable to be postponed.

New single police legislation puts appointment of the Chief Constable under the responsibility of the Scottish Police Authority, yet the process to appoint new Chief Constable has begun before the Authority has even been appointed.

Willie Rennie has written to the First Minister to call on him to delay the process of recruitment.

This comes after procedural papers show that the only involvement of the SPA in the process is of the Chair, who will chair the sifting meeting on 10 September (five days after taking office) and will chair the interviews.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

"By hijacking the selection of the Chief Constable the Justice Secretary has made a mockery of the recruitment process. I have written to Alex Salmond to demand that this is quickly rectified. The whole of the SPA must be involved in the appointment of the Chief Constable from the get-go.

"I am extremely concerned that from day one the Scottish Police Authority will be excluded from the biggest decision they have to make. It beggars belief that they will then be expected to rubber-stamp the appointment at their first meeting.

"Liberal Democrats have repeatedly warned about the politicisation of the new centralised national police force. Today there could hardly be any stronger evidence that our fears are turning into reality.

"If the new Police Authority is not central to the appointment of the new Chief Constable how can they expect to hold him or her to account?

"When pushing the Bill through Parliament, the Cabinet Secretary gave repeated assurances that he would not try to run the Police Service directly and that, in particular, the new Chief Constable would be chosen by the Police Authority and not by ministers. What is now in train is a flagrant breach of that undertaking to Parliament.

"The First Minister needs to order the Justice Secretary to postpone the appointment of the new Chief Constable so that the new Scottish Police Authority can take charge when they are ready."