Police Scotland chief admits force is 'institutionally racist'

The outgoing head of Scotland's police has admitted the force is "institutionally racist," Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith reports

The chief constable of Police Scotland has admitted the force is "institutionally racist."

Addressing a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on Thursday, Sir Iain Livingstone said while the term can be "misinterpreted or misrepresented as unfair and personal critical assessments of police officers and police staff as individuals", it is right for him to acknowledge the issues within the force.

He also said publicly acknowledging that these institutional issues exist is "essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service".

Sir Iain said: "It is right for me, the right thing for me to do as chief constable, to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist.

"Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory.

"Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist service. It is also critical to our determination to lead wider change in society.

"Prejudice and bad behaviour within policing, as highlighted by court and conduct cases, various independent reviews and by listening to our own officers and staff over recent years, is rightly of great concern and is utterly condemned.

"There is no place in Police Scotland for those who reject our values and standards. Our vigilance as an organisation has never been stronger, rigorous recruitment; enhanced vetting; more visible conduct outcomes; and a focus on prevention."

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He also put the "onus" on the force to rid itself of institutional racism.

He told the SPA meeting: "A candid, clear assessment of institutional discrimination means recognising our absolute duty to provide just and effective policing for all according to their specific needs and circumstances.

"It also requires identifying and removing the deep-rooted barriers to achieving this. These are necessary steps to progress the commitment that Police Scotland will be anti-racist; a personal commitment I made to my fellow citizens at the commencement of the public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh.

"And, as a commitment to the people of Scotland, it is also a commitment to Sheku Bayoh's family and loved ones.

"The onus is on us, the police service, to address gaps and challenge bias, known or unwitting, at every level, wherever bias occurs, to maintain and build confidence with all communities."

Sheku Bayoh died while in police custody in May 2015. Credit: PA

Sheku Bayoh, 31, died in May 2015 after he was restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

Mr Bayoh's family described his case as "Scotland's George Floyd" and say that race played a part in his death.

An ongoing inquiry into his death has revealed that haemorrhaging found on Mr Bayoh was similar to that suffered by people in crowd crushes during the Hillsborough disaster.