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Lots done, still more to do in 2020 says Yousaf

Writing exclusively for Police Oracle, Scotland’s Justice Secretary reviews 2019 and looks forward to the year ahead.

The past year has shown again that Scotland is well served by its police officers and staff who continue to adapt to the changing nature of crime and society, and respond effectively to key issues of public concern.

Whether that’s tackling sexual crimes and on-line grooming, successfully disrupting organised crime groups and traffickers, or strengthening its response to people in mental health distress the force is tailoring policing to the needs of 21st century Scotland.

In March the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee also recognised significant achievements since Police Scotland’s creation in 2013, including new national capabilities and improvements in how rape and sexual crimes are investigated.

Our police officers and staff remain the greatest resource of the service, and workforce development and wellbeing is a priority. In Scotland we have retained collective bargaining through the Police Negotiating Board, which agreed a 6.5 per cent pay deal for officers from 1 September 2018.  We recently harmonised pay and conditions for police staff, who will also benefit from a good pay deal in their December salaries.

Critically for the public is how their police service is working for them, to keep their families and communities safe.

The latest Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), published in March, showed crime has fallen by more than two-fifths since 2008-09, with on-in-eight adults experiencing crime compared to one-in-five a decade ago. More people are also feeling safe in their communities than they did a decade ago.

A majority of adults also told the 2017-18 SCJS that police do a good or excellent job locally, with those who have come into contact with the police reflecting positively on their experience.

The service has undertaken a huge amount of work, including training more than 10,000 officers, for the successful implementation and enforcement of Scotland's new and world-leading domestic abuse laws this year.

We have also invested dedicated funding to roll out new mobile technology allowing officers to spend more time in communities, while a new approach to managing calls respond more effectively to demand, ensuring that every caller receives the support they need, through an improved contact assessment model. A Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, using a camera system similar to the police helicopter, was launched in April aiding officers searching for missing people. Large remote areas are searched more quickly than officers on the ground, particularly in challenging and remote terrain.

Police Scotland continues to work with the SPA and Government to continuously improve their service to the public. Our recently published revised strategic police priorities will help inform the direction of policing over the next six years, including specifically the SPA’s three-year strategy and Chief Constable’s annual police plans.

Policing preparations are already under way for major events in the year ahead including Brexit, the UN Climate Change summit in Glasgow as well as the Euro 2020 Championships.

Building on the progress of the last 12 months, I am confident that Scotland’s highly valued police service will go from strength to strength in 2020.

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