Sir Iain Livingstone roasted for ‘hand-wringing’ over racist and sexist police admission
Calum Steele said the Chief Constable’s bombshell statement will make life a nightmare for police officers on the frontline for years to come, as law breakers will be able to call them ‘bigots’
Sir Iain Livingstone pictured at the police training college.
By Bill Heaney
The former head of the Scottish Police Federation – the police officers’ trade union – has warned that “ordinary police officers will be deemed bigots because their boss publicly said the force was institutionally racist”.
South Uist man Calum Steele, who stepped down from his post in February, hit out at Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone’s extraordinary admission that Police Scotland is “institutionally racist and discriminatory”.
First Minister Humza Yousaf described the comments as “monumental” and “historic” but Mr Steele said they were “also a damning indictment on the leadership of the single force” under Sir Iain himself.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he said Sir Iain had failed to provide any “examples of these jaw-dropping failures” and said his statement had the “whiff of the hand-wringing and buck-passing which have befallen the SNP”.
He claimed the admission – the first of its kind by any police force in the UK – was agreed by “small coterie” ahead of Sir Iain’s retirement in August. “It is some welcome gift for the next chief, who must now be favoured to come from outside Police Scotland,” said Mr Steele, pictured below.
Calum Steele, former general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation.
And the former general secretary of the SPF, which represents rank and file officers, warned that members would be plagued by the statement for years to come, adding: “Morale is already low as police numbers fall but this is frankly the last thing those on the front line need – it’s about as far from a vote of confidence as you can get.
“The SPF’s new chairman, David Threadgold, was more measured on BBC Good Morning Scotland on Friday, but agreed it was “simply not the case” that Scottish police officers were institutionally racist.
He said Sir Iain had failed to get across the “nuance” between the organisation as a whole and individual officers, adding: “That is a really important distinction to make because I believe that the role of police officers now in the communities will have been made more difficult by the comments of the chief constable.”
However, Sir Iain told the same radio programme that he could have made the admission sooner and said: “I leave the organisation in a far better place than I found it.”
He acknowledged that many officers would find his statement “difficult to hear”, adding: “But you need to be clear on what I’m actually saying. I am not condemning officers and staff, I’m actually, if anything, looking at the organisation for which I’m responsible and it’s actually taken me time to have that acceptance and that realisation for the reasons I’ve said.”