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THE Scottish government has come under fire from opposition politicians after the chair of the Scottish police watchdog resigned and claimed that governance of the force is “fundamentally flawed.”
Susan Deacon stepped down from her role at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) today and suggested that the government needs fresh thinking on how Police Scotland is scrutinised.
Vice chairman David Crichton will now take over leadership until a new chair is appointed.
Ms Deacon is the third person to quit the post since the organisation’s inception in 2013.
Writing to Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, the former SPA chair detailed her concerns while saying that she considered it a privilege to have served in the role.
She said: “I am pleased that I leave this role with our police service in a much stronger place than it was when I was first appointed.
“However, I have increasingly become convinced that the governance and accountability arrangements for policing in Scotland are fundamentally flawed — in structure, culture and practice — and I conclude that there is little more I can do.”
Mr Yousaf acknowledged the hard work of Ms Deacon over the past two years, but did not directly address her criticisms.
He said there had been a “significant improvement across many facets of the police service in Scotland.”
The announcement was made little more than an hour before SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was due to be grilled by opposition leaders in Holyrood.
Following the resignation Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard questioned the First Minister about her government’s record on public services .
He said: “Today, police scrutiny has been plunged into crisis. And this comes on top of recent warnings from senior police officers that further cuts will be made in police numbers to meet current budgetary limits, at a time when violent crime is rising.
“It’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to accept that none of Scotland’s public services are safe in her hands.”
Ms Sturgeon denied claims of pressure on the country’s single force, saying the government would continue to take forward changes and reforms to strengthen performance.
She said: “The police is not in crisis and I think it does a disservice to police officers around our country who are working so hard to keep us safe to say so.”
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