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Police amalgamation and reform in Scotland: long-term perspectives Neil Davidson Louise Jackson, Davie Smale.

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Presentation on theme: "Police amalgamation and reform in Scotland: long-term perspectives Neil Davidson Louise Jackson, Davie Smale."— Presentation transcript:

1 Police amalgamation and reform in Scotland: long-term perspectives Neil Davidson Louise Jackson, Davie Smale

2 Amalgamation of Scottish police forces

3 How has amalgamation been debated across time? What were the arguments for and against? How has the context shifted? How was reform and amalgamation experienced by serving officers?

4 The Amalgamation of Police Forces in Scotland, YearCounty ForcesCity/Burgh ForcesCombined Forces Source: Annual Reports of the Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland,

5 Three Major Influences for Amalgamation, Alfred John List, Chief Constable of Edinburgh County Police, The Inspectors of Constabulary throughout the nineteenth century 3. Inspector of Constabulary David Munro reacting to the Crofters’ War, 1886

6 Edinburgh County Constable c

7 Annual Reports of the Inspectors of Constabulary for Scotland ‘These burghs in some cases have their town officers, lamplighters, scavengers (and in more than one case, the sexton), sworn in as constables, dressed in blue uniform, and exhibited to me as their “police force”’. John Kinloch, ‘These small places should be compelled to unite for police purposes with their respective counties’. Charles Carnegie, Hawick Burgh Police, 1861

8 The Crofters’ War

9 Chief Constable McHardy of Inverness County Police ‘In January, 1884, a detachment of Police…was sent to Glendale to preserve order, do ordinary patrol and keep up Police communication. The Police were violently set upon by a mob of the Glendale people; and brutally assaulted and kicked, and forcibly driven back…A few days latter [sic] about 2,000 turned out to drive the Police out of the district’.

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11 Three Major Influences for Amalgamation Revisited Alfred John List, A combined force for all of the counties to cut costs and promote efficiency. Inspectors of Constabulary, throughout the nineteenth century. Consistently called for small burghs to ‘consolidate’ with their county to cut costs and become ‘efficient’. Inspector of Constabulary David Munro, reacting to the Crofters’ War, To form a ‘Government Force’ with the ability to send constables anywhere in Scotland to address local problems.

12 The C20th: slow pressure for reform 1919 Desborough Committee recommended reduction in number of Scottish forces Local Govt (Scotland) Act abolished 8 small burgh forces; combined 2 pairs of county forces Ormidale Committee: proposed gradual reduction of Scottish forces to Police (Scotland) Act: encouraged consolidation 1962 Royal Commission on Police Powers and Procedures: ‘extreme case of the multiplicity of small forces’ in Scotland.

13 Modernisers and conservatives? County areas most likely to embrace amalgamation: ‘greater resources, more mobility and no boundaries’ (Scotsman, 29 Aug 1949) (Economic and logistical factors) Opposition from Royal Burghs: defence of civic pride, identity and local control / democracy in opposition to centralising state (dominance of Westminster as much as Edinburgh). (cultural and political factors)

14 Scottish Police Federation Acceptance amongst serving police officers SPF did not oppose Ormidale (1933) Annual conference motions in 1960s advocating the ‘nationalisation’ of Scottish policing (not reversed until 1976) SPF Working Party proposed reduction to 10 forces for the whole of Scotland in 1966 (HH55/959).

15 Regionalisation 1975 Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 Opposition in Lothian and Borders (concerns about resources and local autonomy) Teething problems? Sir David McNee reflected on difficulties of combining standardization with flexibility in his memoirs (D. McNee, McNee’s Law (1983, London). Need for recognition of local cultures and needs (in 1976 SPF drops support for one police service)

16 Oral Histories of Regionalisation Oral histories record the attitudes, perceptions and experiences of the officers serving during the time period in question. 40 retired police officers who were active before 1975; 17 from within the old Northern and 23 in the Strathclyde areas. Recorded testimony of policing over three decades in Scotland. Officers were active during the period of time where the police in the UK underwent the most significant changes it had ever undergone, possibly will ever undergo

17 Officer career histories & personal demographics Officers were predominately from working to lower-middle-class backgrounds, and generally had average level of educational attainment However, there was great diversity of personal attributes and career histories:

18 Officer career histories & personal demographics

19 Ranks: career constables to Assistant Chief Constables Personal attributes: one female officer, Scotland’s first ethnic minority officer, several native Gaelic speakers, one fluent in the ‘tinkers’ language, Special Constables before they were regular police, and several who were police cadets. Experiences and perceptions are inevitably interpreted through the prism of individual personal biographies which is defined by such aspects as their personality, gender, ethnicity, age generation, career trajectory, etc.

20 Emerging themes from Regionalisation Northern officers – In rural areas officer’s enjoy significant amounts of autonomy and distance from the objective influences of police bureaucracy – In rural areas an officer’s role is that of a ‘generalist’, where they have to do a wee bit of everything and be involved in multiple aspects of police work and peace-keeping duties. Regionalisation brought greater access to resources and specialists which they could call upon Strathclyde officers – With denser populations in the Strathclyde region, officers had more specific roles than their generalist rural counterparts - imposed changes on working practices were more keenly felt – Glasgow police’s working practices had to be adopted by all the other forces in the region. For many officers who worked outside Glasgow police Strathclyde was often referred to as ‘Strath-Glasgow’.


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