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Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

Constable: appointment, ranks and terms of office

21.Section 7 requires the SPA to appoint the chief constable of the Police Service, one or more deputy chief constables and one or more assistant chief constables. The chief constable appointment is subject to approval by the Scottish Ministers. The SPA is required to consult the chief constable before appointing a deputy or assistant chief constable. All other constables (including special constables) will be appointed by the chief constable (Sections 8 and 9). Special constables are not paid, but may be entitled to allowances and other periodic payments, which will be set out in regulations made under section 48. The main differences from the 1967 Act are that this Act provides the flexibility to have more than one deputy chief constable and Ministerial agreement is only required before the SPA appoints the chief constable rather than all senior officers.

22.Section 10 provides that, in order to be appointed as a constable, an individual has to have made a declaration before a sheriff or justice of the peace. Section 10(1) sets out the new wording of the declaration. The wording of the oath can be modified by the Scottish Ministers by order, which would be subject to the affirmative procedure in the Scottish Parliament.

23.Section 11 makes provision for constable ranks. It lists the ranks a constable may hold, and gives the Scottish Ministers a power to make regulations (which would be subject to the affirmative procedure in the Scottish Parliament) to add or remove any rank below that of chief constable. The Scottish Ministers may also make provision in the regulations which is appropriate as a consequence of the addition or removal of a rank. Section 11(7) lists the people the Scottish Ministers must consult before making regulations. Section 11(2) provides that constables appointed to the offices of chief constable, deputy chief constable or assistant chief constable under section 7 must hold the same rank as the office to which they have been appointed. The chief constable is responsible for assigning and promoting individuals to ranks below that of assistant chief constable. A constable can only be demoted if the constable consents or it is done in accordance with the regulations made under section 48. Section 12 provides that a constable holds and vacates office in accordance with those regulations, or any other enactment which makes such provision.

24.Section 13 provides the SPA with a power to pay rewards to any constable below the rank of chief constable who it considers has performed their functions with exceptional diligence, or in an especially meritorious manner, or to any person who it deems to have contributed substantially to Scotland’s policing. Such rewards are made on the recommendation of the chief constable.

25.Section 14 provides the SPA with a power to require a chief constable, deputy chief constable or assistant chief constable to resign, or where appropriate, retire in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness of the Police Service. Before calling for this, the SPA must: give the senior officer a written explanation of its reasons, provide the senior officer with an opportunity to make written representations, and consider any such representations made. Where a senior officer has made written representations, the SPA must provide written reasons for the decision calling for the officer to resign or retire. In the case of the chief constable, it must consult the Scottish Ministers. A senior officer called on to resign or retire in this way must do so from the date set by the SPA, or an earlier date agreed between them and the SPA.

26.Section 15 makes provision for constables to be engaged on temporary service outwith the Police Service, with the consent of the chief constable. Constables on temporary service continue to hold the office of constable. Unless stated otherwise in regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under subsection (2) or in another enactment, they retain their functions, powers and privileges, and are under the direction and control of the chief constable in relation to performing policing functions. Under subsection (3) the Scottish Ministers can prescribe types of temporary service and make whatever further provision they consider appropriate in regulations. Following such a period of temporary service, constables are entitled to return to service in the Police Service at the rank they held previously. Their time spent on temporary service is treated as time served as a constable of the Police Service for pay purposes. These are only applicable if the constable does not become eligible for a pension, allowance or gratuity by virtue of regulations made under the Police Pensions Act 1976 during the period of temporary service. Constables can be promoted during their time on temporary service, in which case they would return to the Police Service at the promoted rank and are treated as having served in that rank from the time of promotion for pay purposes. Although this provision largely repeats the current arrangements for temporary service it seeks to make it easier for officers to serve outwith the Police Service.

27.Section 16 allows officers from the rest of the UK and the Crown Dependencies to carry out temporary service as officers in the Police Service, provided they take the oath (section 10). Such individuals hold the office of constable, which entails that they are under the direction and control of the chief constable and have all the powers, privileges and functions of a constable of the Police Service. This is a new provision to facilitate the inward secondment of officers from outwith Scotland for short term postings.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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