POLICE VEHICLES THROUGHOUT Scotland will soon be rebranded to allow the Police Scotland logo to appear in both English and Gaelic.
Opportunities are also being explored that would allow the public to communicate with police officers using the language – with the force hoping to encourage officers to learn the language.
Vehicles throughout Scotland will join those from the Highlands and Islands division in displaying “Poileas Alba” branding early in the new year – following Scottish Government requirements that all public bodies have a Gaelic action plan.
Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Cowie said: “Following a successful public consultation, I am delighted the joint Police Scotland and Scottish Police Authority Gaelic Language Plan is being launched.
“The importance of upholding traditional and native languages cannot be underestimated and as a police service we recognise Gaelic as an important aspect of Scotland’s heritage. It also has a significant role to play in the overall wellbeing of communities and the country as a whole.
“I look forward with great enthusiasm to taking on the recommendations contained in the plan and developing the service’s involvement with Gaelic speakers and communities where Gaelic is the dominant tongue.”
However, regional MSP Douglas Ross, who is also the Tory spokesman on Justice, insisted that the changes were one challenge too many for police in Scotland.
He said: “Police Scotland are facing a number of challenges at the moment, none of which will be solved by having a Gaelic action plan.
“Gaelic is an important part of the fabric in some communities but in many parts of Scotland people have little or no connection with it. Where the language is regularly spoken, the police already use Gaelic.
“This national plan will only serve as a distraction at a time when we should be concentrating on improving policing in Scotland. Rather than waste time and effort on this, they should be attempting to tackle the staffing and funding issues currently facing the force.”
Meanwhile the move has been welcomed by David Boag, who is the director of language planning at Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
He said: “We very much welcome the publication of Police Scotland’s Gaelic Language Plan, given the central and important part they play in daily life within communities the length and breadth of the country.
“Gaelic-speaking police officers and support staff are already offering valuable Gaelic language services to members of the public on a regular basis and this plan aims to identify, secure and build upon these opportunities wherever and whenever possible.”
Police Scotland have insisted that their language plan is “cost neutral”.