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McArthur: Police staff survey can't be delayed any longer

September 4, 2020 6:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have renewed their calls to bring forward the long-delayed Police Scotland staff survey, as yet more evidence of serial under-supporting of officers and staff emerges.

A 2015 exercise where police staff and officers were invited to share their views on their work lives exposed serious problems in the working culture and practices within Scotland's police force. Police Scotland originally promised this exercise would be repeated in 2017.

However, in correspondence with justice spokesperson Liam McArthur, Police Scotland have now confirmed that this is now expected "during 2021".

Mr McArthur has called for this to be brought forward, after a week where:

  • An Independent Review found that "Police are responding to a demand for mental health related services which they do not feel best placed to meet.", with 41% of people in police custody reporting previous mental health issues and the review hearing from an officer that they had been "self-taught" because they hadn't received enough mental health training.
  • Police callouts for individuals in severe mental distress increased by 25% in some parts of Scotland during lockdown.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"When this survey was conducted in 2015, it shone a light on how undervalued staff and officers felt. Just 8% thought their organisation was genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than a quarter of police officers felt that they had the resources they needed to do their job properly.

"Now, while officers are being called to deal with the ever-expanding mental health crisis in Scotland, their own wellbeing has fallen down the to-do list to the extent there is now a four year delay to the force-wide staff survey. The decision to delay was taken before the pandemic hit, and the increase in officer workload that has followed means there's now all the more reason to check in.

"The police force can't be expected to pick up the tab of an under-resourced mental health system while their own mental health is being side-lined.

"Those at the top have been keen to claim that policing in Scotland is back on track after the SNP's botched centralisation. They are less willing to let rank and file officers tell their own story.

"This survey needs to take place as soon as possible."