Former SNP leader calls for federalised police force

Gordon Wilson
Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson

A former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has branded the governance of Police Scotland as “authoritarian” and called for the federalisation of the national force.

Less than three years after the Scottish government merged Scotland’s eight territorial police forces, Gordon Wilson has said the new national force must be overhauled in order to “restore community policing” and trust.

Writing for think tank Options for Scotland, Mr Wilson said: “Most countries have local police as well as national organisations. Replacing the Leader or trimming the Leadership Team will not resolve the fundamental weaknesses embodied in the structure of Police Scotland.

“While retaining the benefits of a national structure through Police Scotland, power and direction must be devolved to quasi-autonomous local police forces, each under the control of a Chief Constable and subject to local oversight.”

Mr Wilson makes a scathing assessment of the force, writing: “Rarely in the history of any police force, including London’s Metropolitan Police at its worst, has any force performed so badly as has Police Scotland.”

However, he said the force’s problems go “much deeper than Sir Stephen House” and called on the Scottish Parliament and Scottish government to “accept responsibility for the framework and legislation”.

The former MP for Dundee East proposed that the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) should be scrapped and oversight of the force be handed to the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee in a “quasi-judicial capacity”.

He also backed greater powers for the Police and Investigations Review Commissioner (PIRC) and giving local authorities a role in the oversight of federal police units.

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