POLICE SCOTLAND have been accused of being “shortsighted” after dropping the requirement for applicants to have a driving licence.
The move has come as part of a new campaign to recruit more ethnic minority and female officers – after allegations that the force is dominated by white male officers.
The new initiative is looking to rectify the current underrepresentation of ethnic minorities – who currently make up just one percent of the force – and women – who make up only 29% of officers.
To encourage more applicants from across Scottish society the force hopes to engage more with ethnic communities – having closer contact with mosques and other community institutions.
And for the first time in more than 20 years the force have even waived the requirement for a driving licence before applicants can be hired as officers.
The decision was made after figures showed that only half of the unemployed in Scotland hold a driving licence.
But Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont warned that in the wake of the recent tragedy on the M9 – and the emergency nature of police work – such a move is “shortsighted.”
He said: “The police do an extremely important job within the community which includes being able to get to an emergency or crime scene quickly.
“lt is very shortsighted of Police Scotland to drop the requirement for a driving licence.
“Given all the recent failings of the force, including the M9 tragedy, having a licence should be an absolute priority for new officers.
“This is just another blunder highlighting the failings of a centralised force under the SNP government.”
The news comes after revelations that a third of the police workforce intended to leave the organisation.
Speaking about the initiative to hire more officers from more diverse backgrounds, Chief Inspector Ann Bell said: “Only one per cent of the force come from ethnic minorities, though they are four per cent in the census.
“This seems like the perfect time to try to look at what we have to do to move forward. For lots of people from ethnic minorities there are barriers in terms of the perception of what the police are for.
“Some of our new Scots, who come here from around the world, may have very good reason to fear the police due to repression in their home countries.”