Police Scotland Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House announced his decision to resign at the Scottish Police Authority public board meeting in Stirling today saying
As the leader of a national organisation that provides a vital public service 24 hours every day of the year, there can never be a convenient time to move on, but after nearly 35 years as a police officer and the last 9 as a Chief Constable in Scotland, I believe the time is right for me to take up a new challenge and thereby allow the process to recruit my successor to begin.
Much has been achieved since the creation of Police Scotland and I firmly believe that Scotland is better served for it. Not only in managing the changes brought about by reform and substantial financial cuts, but most importantly in the public service we provide.
I want to take this opportunity to recognise the contribution made to policing in Scotland by Vic Emery and former Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, their support and commitment has been of great value.
From building confidence in victims coming forward to report crimes, to ending the postcode provision of specialist services, to improving our ability to respond to major incidents and events – I am proud of the hard work and commitment to the public, police officers and staff deliver each and every day.
I would like to pay my personal tribute to the unstinting work they do in serving the people and communities of Scotland. It is their work that keeps people safe across Scotland and it is their work I would like recognised.
Sir Stephen was under pressure to resign after the way the force responded to the M9 crash in July in which John Yuill and Lamara Bell died after it took three days for officers to respond to reports of their car leaving the road near Stirling.
Following the announcement the First Minister thanked Sir Stephen for his service with both Police Scotland and Strathclyde Police.
Ms Sturgeon said:
I would like to thank the Chief Constable for his dedicated service with both Strathclyde Police and Police Scotland during which time he oversaw the transition to a single police service.
Strong policing has ensured recorded crime is at a 40 year low. Sir Stephen provided leadership at a crucial time and his strong focus on tackling violent crime made a major contribution to that achievement.
I also recognise his powerful and long-standing focus on tackling domestic violence and sexual crime. At a time when we are celebrating a century of women in policing, his track record in encouraging and supporting women in the service should also be recognised.
The policing of major events when Scotland was in the international spotlight such as last year’s Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup was also exemplary.
Reform of policing in Scotland was absolutely vital to sustain the policing upon which Scotland’s communities depend and Sir Stephen’s contribution to that was invaluable.
As a result, policing in Scotland continues to perform extremely well and the police service deserves great credit for this. Moving to a single service is safeguarding frontline policing from Westminster cuts.
Over that period, we have seen record numbers of police officers – more than 1000 higher compared to 2007 – and those additional officers are ensuring communities across Scotland are safe and strong.
Commenting on the Chief Constable’s announcement and on policing more widely, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said
I would also like to thank the Chief Constable for his service and contribution to policing in Scotland.
There have been challenges but we are learning the lessons and addressing the issues. We continue to make good progress on the reform journey to deliver a truly integrated single service and all the benefits that brings and I will expand on this in a statement on policing to parliament next Thursday.
The people of Scotland deserve exemplary policing delivered by an exemplary police service and we will continue to work with Police Scotland, the Chief Constable and his successor, and the new Chair of the Scottish Police Authority to ensure this is the case.