Guest Editorial – Douglas Ross is the Conservative Councillor for Fochabers/Lhanbryde and a member of the Police and Fire Committee on Moray Council.
Councillor Ross was recently highly critical of a report submitted to that committee by Police Scotland, and this week he quizzed senior officers over an increase in response times to emergency calls in Moray.
I MADE VERY CLEAR before the meeting on Thursday that the report submitted was not fit for purpose and I welcome the fact that the new Chief Superintendent agreed it was lacking – and in fact apologised for important areas of the report being missing.
I also found it very strange that Police Scotland were able to provide more information verbally at the meeting which was not included in the report. It raises the question why that information was not included in a report they had three months to write.
Some could speculate that after the negative press their four-page report received, they decided to give the issue further attention.
There are however still many unanswered questions.
I asked how many of the possible reasons for the increased response times suggested by the police were actually to blame for the delays and was told this was not known. How can senior officers write a report giving reasons for the poorer response times but then be completely unable to back-up their suggestions?
A key area missing from the report was the number of uniformed officers available to respond to these emergency calls. This was specifically asked for at the last committee and did not get mentioned at all in the report. I am glad this and the other issues that were raised will now be subject to a further report.
I was robust with my questioning on this topic because I think that is what the public expect of members of a scrutiny committee. I often find that councillors simply accept everything they are told by the senior officers and don’t want to challenge the information or seek further answers, yet that is exactly the remit of the committee.
I hope after the meeting Senior Officers are aware how important we view this issue. It is crucial that when someone in Moray calls the police in an emergency they get a response as quickly as possible.
We also have to show our front-line officers who respond to these calls that we are doing everything possible to support them in the vital role they do.
The Police and Fire Committee must never find itself simply acting as another arm of the single forces and supporting everything they say and do.
Our role is to protect the services in Moray and get the best performance for local people.