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Outgoing Police Scotland Chief admits the force is “institutionally racist”

Speaking at an SPA meeting this morning, Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone said that acknowledging the issue is “essential” to becoming an anti-racist service.

The outgoing chief constable of Police Scotland has admitted the force “is institutionally racist and discriminatory”.

Addressing a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on Thursday, Sir Iain Livingstone 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.”

He emphasised that his admission “absolutely does not mean” all officers and staff are racist, sexist or homophobic, and he praised the “incredible” work they do each day to keep people and communities safe.

Sir Iain went on to warn there is “no place” in Police Scotland for people who do harbour prejudices, and that the behaviour of colleagues who have been found to hold such views is “utterly condemned”.

He continued: “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.”

The statement follows an announcement of mandatory leadership training for 5,000 more officers in a bid to stamp out offensive “banter” and so-called “canteen culture”.

This in turn came as a report was published which found “instances of ongoing discrimination against minority communities, including first-hand accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia” by serving officers.

The Chief specified that the onus is on the force to rid itself of institutional racism.

He said: “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.”

Acknowledging institutional racism should act as a catalyst for change, he said.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has hailed the statement as “historic” and “monumental”. 

Sir Iain’s last day working at Police Scotland will be August 10.

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