Police Scotland: challenging the current democratic deficit in police governance and public accountability

Barry Loveday

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This article considers the recent creation of Police Scotland and the substitution of local police forces for a national police service ‘Police Scotland’ in 2013. It assesses the drivers for change and the arguments presented by both politicians and police professionals in favour of the eradication of all 8 local Scottish forces and the creation of a single police force. It contrasts developments in Scotland with those in England and Wales where there has been a recommitment to local delivery of police services in which local police boundaries have been retained with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners. It considers the police boundaries and coterminosity with local authorities and highlights the absence of shared boundaries within Police Scotland. It reflects on the removal of local accountability in Scotland with the abolition of Police Boards and the creation of a national and unelected Scottish Police Authority. It highlights the significance of police planning led by senior officers from Strathclyde Police and the impact of this on Police Scotland. It raises legitimate questions as to the overall efficacy of a national force made answerable to a nationally appointed body, the Scottish Police Authority. Finally, it makes a number of recommendations which might go towards someway to re-establishing a degree of local accountability to communities and local governments in Scotland which is now so clearly absent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-167
Number of pages14
JournalCrime Prevention and Community Safety
Issue number3
Early online date29 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2018


  • Centralisation
  • Police planning
  • Accountability failures
  • Partnerships and shared police boundaries
  • Police boards and public engagement


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