New appointments shore up chief officer team after ACC suspended as part of criminal investigation

Police Scotland has appointed two temporary assistant chief constables to bolster its leadership after a senior member of the executive team was among a number of officers suspended over allegations of criminality.

Nov 28, 2017

Police Scotland has appointed two temporary assistant chief constables to bolster its leadership after a senior member of the executive team was among a number of officers suspended over allegations of criminality. Chief Superintendents Gillian MacDonald and Alan Speirs will join Police Scotland’s leadership team while Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins is investigated for potential criminal and gross misconduct. The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) is also examining the actions of another five officers, three of whom have been suspended while two have been placed on restricted duties. Ms MacDonald will be responsible for the force’s major crime, local crime and public protection portfolio, and Mr Speirs will lead on professionalism and assurance. The appointments were announced by Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, currently acting lead for the force, as he addressed the Scottish Police Authority on Tuesday (November 28). Mr Livingstone said: “This is clearly a challenging time for policing in Scotland and my focus continues to be on meeting the operational and organisational challenges we face, and providing the leadership of policing that the people of Scotland rightly expect. “I remain in charge of day-to-day policing, strongly supported by my colleagues in the force executive, together with the command teams in every part of local policing in Scotland, as well as specialist national departments. “Leadership exists across all aspects of policing, from my role as the deputy chief constable all the way through the organisation to the police constables serving their local communities. “I have absolute confidence in the leadership provided by all the officers and staff that serve in Police Scotland, and the qualities, skills and experience that we collectively possess.” The allegations regarding Mr Higgins, who denies any wrongdoing, were passed to the PIRC on Friday (November 24), a month after they came to the attention of the Scottish Police Authority. The PIRC said it is now carrying out an assessment to establish whether a misconduct investigation is required. The suspension will be reviewed in four weeks, or if there is a change in circumstances. Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, Police Scotland’s firearms lead, and his deputy, Chief Inspector Bob Glass, are among the other officers who have been suspended. Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed that they are also under investigation. The suspensions mark the latest leadership crisis for Police Scotland with Chief Constable Phil Gormley currently on special leave while allegations of bullying are investigated. His predecessor, Sir Stephen House, stood down in 2015 following criticism over his policies on stop and search and putting armed officers on routine patrol. In a statement, Mr Higgins’ spokesperson said: “He will fully cooperate with the investigation. He intends to resume his duties as soon as this matter has been resolved.” The Scottish Police Federation questioned the decision to grant Mr Gormley leave while under investigation as other officers were not given the same option. A spokesperson said: “Whilst it is always difficult to talk about specifics due to an ongoing investigation, the information we have suggests the suspension of our members and others is unwarranted. “Our members rightly ask what it is that allows some to be granted leave while under investigation but for that same opportunity not to be extended to them.”

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