The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Officers turn on police chief over ‘racist force’ comment

- By Daniel Sanderson

RANK and file officers have turned on the chief constable of Police Scotland for branding the force racist.

Sir Iain Livingston­e, who runs the UK’s second-largest police force, was yesterday facing a growing backlash for his landmark admission that Police Scotland is institutio­nally racist, sexist, misogynist­ic and discrimina­tory.

While he insisted this did not mean that individual officers and staff members were bigots, officers’ representa­tives said the distinctio­n would be lost on the public and that their jobs would now become more difficult.

David Threadgold, the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) which represents rank-and-file officers, said that many had been “deeply offended” by their boss’s remarks which he claimed had provoked an “overwhelmi­ngly negative” reaction.

“The vast majority of the police officers who heard the Chief Constable, and by extension the public, their perception is that he was identifyin­g and labelling them as institutio­nally racist,” he said. “And the distinctio­n, the nuance the Chief Constable is trying to make between organisati­onal issues and individual collective responsibi­lity was missed in the delivery.” He added: “It is a really important distinctio­n to make because the role of officers now in communitie­s will have been made more difficult by his comments.

“So when they are patrolling the streets, people will see them and make the link to the fact that the Chief Constable has said that we as an organisati­on are institutio­nally racist, and that will make our job more difficult.”

Sir Iain, in the first such admission for a UK police force, said that publicly acknowledg­ing the deep problems

‘The role of officers now in communitie­s will have been made more difficult by his comments’

within the force was essential if it was to become an “anti-racist” organisati­on.

However, Calum Steele, a former general secretary of the SPF, accused the outgoing chief constable of an “act of sabotage” and claimed policing had been “kicked into the gutter”.

On claims his statement would damage trust in police and devastate morale, Sir Iain said: “I am not condemning officers and staff. I’m looking at the organisati­on for which I’m responsibl­e and it’s taken me time to have that acceptance and that realisatio­n.”

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