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Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

Chief Constable

28.Section 17 makes it clear that the chief constable is responsible, and must account to the SPA, for the policing of Scotland. The chief constable has the following responsibilities:

  • Direction and control of the Police Service;

  • The day to day administration of the Police Service and the allocation and deployment of resources received from the SPA;

  • Involvement in the preparation of the strategic police plan, and SPA’s annual report;

  • Preparing annual police plans;

  • Seeking to secure continuous improvement in the policing of Scotland;

  • Designation of local commanders and ensuring that adequate arrangements are in place for the policing of each local authority area; and

  • To provide the SPA with information about the Police Service, policing and the state of crime.

29.When directing constables, police cadets and police staff, the chief constable must comply with any lawful instruction given by the appropriate prosecutor in relation to the investigation of offences, the Lord Advocate under section 12 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the Lord Justice General and the sheriff principal for the area in which functions are to be carried out. He or she must also seek to ensure that Scotland’s policing is carried out with due regard to the policing principles set out at section 32 and the recommendations made or guidance issued by the SPA on Scotland’s policing, and in accordance with the strategic police priorities, any strategic police plan approved under section 34, and the most recent annual police plan published under section 35. Any recommendations or guidance made by the SPA must not be inconsistent with the strategic police priorities, the latest approved strategic police plan and any guidance or instructions issued to the chief constable by the Lord Advocate or a procurator fiscal in relation to the investigation or reporting of offences. This section largely brings together the current responsibilities of chief constables, updated to reflect the establishment of the Police Service and the new planning and reporting regime established in the Act. It also makes clear that the chief constable is accountable to the SPA for the policing of Scotland.

30.Section 18 provides that the chief constable can delegate any of his or her functions to any other constable. He or she is however still responsible for the performance of those functions and remains able to perform them. The SPA is required to designate a deputy chief constable to perform the chief constable’s functions if that office is vacant or if he or she is unable to perform their duties due to absence, illness or suspension. Only one deputy chief constable can be designated to take on the functions of the chief constable at any particular time. This provision does not affect any restriction on delegation of the chief constable’s functions contained in any other enactment.

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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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