FURIOUS serving police officers have put their careers on the line to openly back a petition calling Police Scotland to be scrapped.
Angry officers have described the creation of the national force as the “worst decision ever” and a “shambles” and demanded a return to regional policing.
The Change.org petition, set up by James Montgomery, has had more than 1,300 signatures in the past two weeks.
At least a dozen petitioners say they are serving officers and give their full names, despite the risk of facing disciplinary action. At least four of the names match those of police officers currently serving with the national force.
One officer from Bonnyrigg, Midlothian wrote: “Police Scotland, worst decision ever. Used to love my job, not anymore. Bring back Lothian and Borders.”
A constable from Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, said: “I’m a serving police officer and feel our community is not receiving the care/support it used to have with legacy forces.”
Another employee from Kincardine, Fife wrote: “I am a police officer under increasing pressure from an organisation that is failing on a daily basis.”
And a current Police Scotland worker from Aberdeen said: “The single force is not working. Many of my colleagues are losing their jobs and those that are left are doing the work of four or five. It wasn’t thought out correctly and rushed through.”
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “We were supportive of the creation of a single police force, but many of the assurances that support was based on have not come to pass.
“Since its creation, Police Scotland has had a huge amount of negative publicity, and things don’t appear to be getting easier. It’s no surprise to hear officers want to go back to how it was.”
Former Director General of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, Graeme Pearson, said: “I fully understand the frustrations expressed and meet people regularly who offer evidence of what is wrong with the single police service.”
Mr Pearson, who also served as an MSP, added: “Unfortunately it’s not the structure of the single force that is wrong here. From the outset the SNP showed little interest in the ‘service’ the Police delivered but a focus largely on cutting budgets and centralising power.”
Many former officers also backed the petition.
One former Lothian and Borders officer who served the force for 28 years said: “Former colleagues now cannot believe how much things have changed and are constantly working against the tide, embarrassed to be part of a monster that is simply too big and not functioning. Please reinstate the former forces.”
Another ex-Lothian and Borders employee now living in Drumnadrochit, Highlands, wrote: “I have seen the disgraceful slide of efficiency into the utter shambles that is Police Scotland and the broken morale of the longer serving officers who actually knew their job.”
And one former officer Aberdeen said: “I left Grampian Police before the amalgamation as I could see the writing on the wall.
“Having worked in other industries before and since I can hand on heart say had they not created one force I would still be in the job now.”
But Calum Steele, General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, believed Police Scotland is a lot stronger than it was before.
He said: “There will always be critics of new systems and there will always be fans.
“I fundamentally believe the police is in better shape than it was before.
“Setting finance aside, many problems and challenges the force has, in particular in estate and IT, have been inherited by former forces.
“It is absolutely devastating to local communities when police stations close but anyone who thinks this didn’t happen before the merger is looking at things through rose tinted glasses.
“We are not downplaying the challenges Police Scotland has but I am comfortable the force is stronger now than the way it was before.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Despite the challenges of implementing the most significant public sector reform in Scotland since devolution – which was backed by cross-party support across the Scottish Parliament – policing continues to perform excellently supported by the 1,000 extra officers we have delivered.
“We are committed to protecting the police resource budget in real terms in every year of this Parliament – a boost of £100 million by 2021.”