Scottish officers have been instructed not to pursue minor crimes like break-ins, which has raised concerns among the chair of the country’s Police Federation who called it a “very dangerous precedent.”
Police Scotland released a statement on Monday saying they are “testing a different approach to the way certain incidents are handled in the North East when reported to them.”
Crimes such as some break-ins and thefts without leads or CCTV evidence will be effectively ignored. The police stated that they are making “difficult choices to provide effective policing with the available funding.”
Critics argue that this decision reflects the “politicization of Police Scotland” and will negatively impact the “most vulnerable members of our community.”
More Time to Focus
“We want to give police officers more time to focus on proportionate lines of inquiry, responding to emergencies, and keeping people safe from harm,” said Police Scotland.
“On some occasions, crimes are reported where there is no associated threat, risk, harm, or vulnerability and also no proportionate lines of inquiry for local police officers to investigate,” the statement added.
Commenting on the decision, divisional commander Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie stated: “The pilot process will allow local police officers to focus on crimes that have proportionate lines of inquiry and potentially allocate more time to address local concerns and priorities in the area.”
Police Scotland mentioned that this system has previously worked well in Grampian, and they hope the pilot will achieve positive results.
They also emphasized that resources will be prioritized in areas with higher demand and greater risk to ensure public safety.
The Scottish Police Federation, an organization that represents all Scottish police officers, expressed concern, stating, “We’re potentially withdrawing a service from some of the most vulnerable members of our community while continuing to carry out functions unrelated to the police.”
The Federation’s chair stated in an interview with BBC Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday that, “This I suspect will deliver very little in terms of operational capacity, and it’s more about servicing the insatiable demand on policing while budgets and officer numbers are reduced.”
‘Politicisation of Police Scotland’
Dr. Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology, expressed his belief that what is being voiced is partly due to the reality that the police lack the resources to cover every potential crime.
However, he also noted, “this comes on the back of the politicization of Police Scotland, who have spent time and resources promoting their opposition to ‘hate’ and prioritizing issues like domestic violence, something that some believe has not only been politically motivated as part of the culture war but has also led to the over-policing of personal relationships and the labeling of all women as potential ‘victims.'”
Dr. Waiton pointed out that police training of recruits now begins with a lengthy section on diversity.
“Given all of this, it is no surprise that there is concern raised about the lack of time and effort put into tackling the many crimes that do not fit into the politically correct framework of policing in Scotland,” he added.
Opposition parties have expressed concerns about public safety.
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said, “The SNP government’s decision to impose severe and sustained cuts on police budgets has depleted policing across Scotland, with the fewest number of officers since 2008.
“Police Scotland should be commended for being candid about their predicament, but communities deserve better than the SNP’s weak approach to justice and their surrender to criminals.
“Ministers must be transparent with the public about whether this policy could potentially be implemented elsewhere in Scotland.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government stated, “While these decisions are the responsibility of the chief constable, it is essential for Police Scotland to maintain public trust and foster relationships with local communities.
“This will be crucial when evaluating the results of this pilot to ensure that local priorities continue to be met without any detriment to communities.
“Despite challenging financial circumstances due to UK government austerity, the Scottish Government has increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-2017, investing over £11.6 billion since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.”
PA Media contributed to this report.