John Scott QC to lead scrutiny of emergency police powers



John Scott QC

John Scott QC has been commissioned by Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone to review the force’s use of new emergency powers to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The respected human rights lawyer will chair a group to provide independent scrutiny of how officers and staff are applying new legislation.

The Chief Constable said: “The vast majority of people are doing the right thing during this health emergency because they know it is the best way to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Community policing has a vital role to play as we all make the changes and sacrifices needed to curtail the spread of coronavirus. With the support and co-operation of our fellow citizens, we will continue to focus on explaining the legal instructions, encouraging compliance, and using enforcement only where necessary.

“Nevertheless, these are extraordinary powers, introduced quickly for a significant moment in our history and it is essential our use of them is thoroughly and independently scrutinised. I am grateful to Mr Scott for agreeing to provide his substantial experience and abilities, which can bring significant value to our thinking and operational practice.”

Mr Scott said: “These are exceptional and difficult times. In response, the Scottish government has introduced exceptional measures, including significant new powers for Police Scotland.

“Given the importance in Scotland of policing by consent, the Chief Constable recognises that the use of such exceptional powers should be the subject of full transparency.“I therefore welcome his invitation to chair a group to provide independent scrutiny of the exercise of those powers.

“I will engage closely with a range of key stakeholders to quickly set appropriate Terms of Reference for this work. I will also establish a reference group. This review should contribute to maintaining public confidence in the work of Police Scotland.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This is a very welcome, forward-thinking decision by the Chief Constable to ensure that the use of these important emergency powers by Scotland’s police officers are subject to independent review by a highly-regarded expert in human rights. This will complement the statutory scrutiny that the independent HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority are bringing to this issue.”



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