Ross tackles police morale in his maiden speech at Holyrood

Douglas Ross - thanked his Fochabers/Lhanbryde constituents.
Douglas Ross – thanked his Fochabers/Lhanbryde constituents.

At the end of his first full week as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, Douglas Ross has delivered his maiden speech – in which he reiterated the “huge privilege” he ad in representing his home region.

Mr Ross, who will remain an unpaid member of the Moray Council until the local authority elections next year, spoke in the Holyrood debate under the banner ‘Taking Scotland Forward’.

He admitted to having “a few more nerves” in making his first speech despite having always enjoyed public speaking from his time as a young farmer speechmaking competition entrant.

He said: “It’s a huge privilege to represent my home area of Moray as part of the Highlands and Islands region and I wanted to thank the local people of Fochabers-Lhanbryde who have returned me as one of their councillors at the last two elections.

“Their support for me as a local councillor helped me to get to where I am now.

“It was also an opportunity to thank all the Parliamentary staff who have gone above and beyond to help the new MSPs settle in and I was keen that they got the recognition they deserve for the great job they do.

“As Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice I focussed most of my remarks on policing and the single police force. Since the inception of Police Scotland 800 officers have resigned and that is something that has to be addressed. Losing their experience, skill and knowledge is a huge blow for the entire force.”

Stressing the current state of low morale amongst many police officers, he continued: “Several now have to fulfil back office roles rather than being out in the community because of cuts made since the eight forces were merged into one.

“MSPs in this Parliament will have more powers than ever before. I finished my speech by calling on the SNP government to use these powers to improve the lives of people in Scotland and for the Parliament to meet the aspirations of the people who send us there – where there is grown up debate, sensible policy making and effective scrutiny of the government.

“The maiden speech was another thing I had to tick off my list as something new MSPs must do.

“Next week I am due to question the new Rural Affairs Secretary on the failures surrounding CAP payments allowing us to fulfil one of our election pledges, to hold the government to account.”