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Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

Chapter 4 – Principles, Priorities, Objectives and Plans

40.Chapter 4 sets out the policing principles and new arrangements for setting priorities, objectives and planning. Section 32 sets out the policing principles. The first principle, set out in section 32(a), is that the main purpose of policing is to improve the safety and well-being of persons, localities and communities in Scotland. Section 32(b) states that the second principle is that the Police Service, working with others as appropriate, should seek to achieve that purpose by carrying out its functions in a way that (i) engages with, and is accessible to, local communities and (ii) promotes measures to prevent crime, harm and disorder.

41.Section 33 allows the Scottish Ministers to determine strategic priorities for the SPA in relation to Scotland’s policing or to the carrying out of the SPA’s functions. Sections 33(3) and 33(4) provide, respectively, that, before doing so, the Scottish Ministers must consult the SPA, the chief constable, persons whom they consider represent local authorities and any other persons they consider appropriate; and that they must have regard to the policing principles when determining strategic priorities. The Scottish Ministers are required to publish the strategic police priorities and lay a copy of them before the Scottish Parliament.

42.Section 34 obliges the SPA to prepare a strategic police plan setting out the main objectives for the SPA and for Scotland’s policing. That plan must be approved by the Scottish Ministers. It must: explain why each objective has been selected; describe what the SPA thinks it or the Police Service should do in order to achieve them; where reasonably practicable identify the outcomes against which they can be measured; and include any other material relating to the SPA or Police Service considered appropriate.

43.Sections 34(3) and 34(5) set out the process for consulting on the draft plan, and list those who must be consulted on it (local authorities, the inspectors of constabulary and any others the SPA considers likely to have an interest in the plan). Under section 34(4) the SPA must involve the chief constable in the preparation of the strategic police plan, and the chief constable has an obligation to provide such assistance the SPA may reasonably require in this regard. The SPA must invite consultees to respond within a set period and must have regard to comments received. Once that process has been completed, the plan must be submitted to Ministers for approval. Once it has been approved, it must be published and laid before the Scottish Parliament. The plan must be reviewed at least once every 3 years or where there has been a significant revision to the strategic police priorities. The modified plan following that review should follow the same process of consultation, approval and publication as the original.

44.Section 35 obliges the chief constable to prepare an annual police plan. The plan is to set out the proposed arrangements for the policing of Scotland in each year, and how the arrangements are expected to contribute towards the achievement of the main objectives for the policing of Scotland as set out in the strategic police plan. It should also include any other information, connected with policing, which the chief constable considers appropriate. The chief constable must send the SPA a copy of the draft plan for comment, publish the annual plan before the start of the year to which it relates and lay a copy of it before the Scottish Parliament.

45.Section 36 specifies that, in carrying out their respective functions in relation to the formulation and publication of the strategic police plan and each annual police plan, the SPA and chief constable must have regard to the policing principles; must have regard to, and ensure that the plan is consistent with, the strategic police priorities; and ensure the annual plan is consistent with the most recently approved strategic police plan.

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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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