Last week Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill claimed in a column that Police Scotland should stop dealing with ‘resource-intensive’ issues, such as policing cybercrime. Instead, MacAskill asserted, policing the web should be left up to private companies who have, arguably, more time and manpower to put behind curbing cybercrime.
But now, in contrast, it has emerged that Police Scotland plan to invest in a high-tech future, with the publication of a new Implementation Plan for the force over the next three years. Forming the first step of a longer-term strategy – ‘Policing 2026 – Serving a Changing Scotland’ – the shorter-term plan details proposals to introduce a number of digitised crime-fighting centres and recon drones to the force’s roster.
According to The Scotsman and despite MacAskill’s words, Police Scotland plans to build two new ‘cyber-hubs’ in the north and west of Scotland, for fighting digital crime. At a cost of £3.6 million, the unmarked and un-signposted cyber-hubs will complement a centre already functioning in Eastern Scotland, and will source cyber-crime related evidence and work on prevention.
Alongside this, it has also emerged that the force will invest in around 40 new ‘cyber-kiosks’. The kiosks, which will be dotted around Scotland, will be used by the police to assess whether mobile devices need to be inspected further through forensic analysis.
Another standout proposal is the introduction of the use of drones, to help with aerial reconnaissance and rescue efforts. UAVs could prove to save the police money in the long-term, as dispatching a small drone to the scene of an accident or crime would be cheaper than sending out Police Scotland’s only helicopter to incidents.
These supports will contribute to Police Scotland’s strategic areas of focus, as outlined in the Investment Plan:
- Providing strategic protection, “based on risk, threat and harm”
- Tackling crime, inequality and problems facing communities
- Focussing on localism, diversity and the digital world
- Developing knowledge to provide better policing services
- Delivering a dynamic and adaptable policing force
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone contextualised the three-year plan: “Our Serving a Changing Scotland strategy was developed to address the challenges we now face and to enable the police service to become operationally and financially sustainable. Since we consulted on this strategy earlier in the year, we’ve been working hard to pull a broad range of projects together so we can prioritise the work we need to do.
“This three-year plan sets out what those priorities are and how we will go about the first stages of the transformation. It sets out how we will give our officers and staff the tools, resources and support they need to continue to keep people safe and to respond appropriately to the millions of calls for help we receive every year. Fundamental to all of this is the wellbeing and development of everyone working in Police Scotland, regardless of rank or role.”