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Scottish Police trainees now forced to take ‘virtue signaling’ courses on slave trade

Police officers are being taught about Scotland’s role in the slave trade as part of a new training program for probationers, it has been revealed.

The course is part of a revised induction process for trainees which also examines Scottish history and the ethics of policing.

Officers are being briefed on the role the Scots played in slavery in a bid to combat prejudice and increase understanding of equality and inclusion within the ranks.

The revelation comes after former police chief Sir Iain Livingstone angered officers last year after claiming his own force was institutionally racist and discriminatory.

But it also comes after senior officers said cash-strapped Scottish Police can no longer afford to fully investigate thousands of ‘minor’ crimes as part of a new ‘strategic proportionate’ response “.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said lessons on slavery for Scottish Police probationers were

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said lessons on slavery for Police Scotland probationers were “a virtual signaling exercise”.

Police chiefs and opposition politicians last night expressed concern that the slavery course was “virtue signaling” and could be seen as a “tick box”.

David Kennedy, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), representing rank-and-file officers, said: “Most officers know about slavery and have been informed about it before getting the job – and if not, it That might be a problem. for society as a whole and the education system, for example, rather than for maintaining order.

“This stems from Sir Iain’s statement on racism last year, but I do not believe the service is now – or was then – a racist organisation.

“Some of this training content may be relevant, but most officers would prefer to be properly trained and equipped for the job – and some of them may view this as a box to tick, and something that should not be such a priority. ‘

Tom McMahon, director of strategy and analysis at Police Scotland, said the force had introduced a “revised delivery model for trainee training”.

In papers submitted to the people’s committee of the Scottish Police Authority, Scotland’s civilian policing watchdog, he said it “will include a lesson in Scottish history and the ethics of policing, a education about Scotland’s role in slavery and important events during this period. the years and their impact on the maintenance of order yesterday and today.

He said: “There will also be a lesson on Scottish communities, including current demographic information and any existing cultural barriers and issues encountered.”

But last night Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: “Police Scotland would be better off focusing their attention on tackling criminal gangs who exploit victims of modern slavery rather than deliver history lessons for new recruits.

“People from poorer countries are regularly smuggled into Scotland where they face threats, with male victims usually subjected to forced labor and women forced into prostitution.

“This exercise in virtue signaling is also questionable given recent concerns about the quality of officer training in relation to the SNP’s hate crime law.”

Last week, Police Chief Jo Farrell said she was sorry for the “recent and historic injustices” suffered by “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex” people.

In December last year, a watchdog revealed that potential police recruits had withdrawn their applications after Sir Iain said the force was institutionally racist – a position supported by Ms Farrell when she replaced in October 2023.

Craig Naylor – Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Constabulary in Scotland – said Sir Iain’s statement had left many officers “disenchanted”.

In a damning report into how Police Scotland is managed, he said the comments had led to public “negativity” towards officers and their families.

Earlier this week, the Mail reported that police officers were resigning in droves due to heavy workload and stress as police face a ‘perfect storm’ of recruitment and retention, exit interviews show .

Those leaving Police Scotland have told the FPS of a lack of support from bosses and welfare concerns.

According to the SPF exit survey, those leaving said there was a “complete absence of strategic leadership” and an “attitude of doing more with less” among managers.

Last year a leading academic and race adviser suggested lessons on slavery should be introduced into Scottish schools to teach children about Britain’s colonial past.

Sir Geoff Palmer, chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said courses on slavery should be considered core subjects on a par with maths and English.

He has previously spoken out about Edinburgh’s past role in slavery and colonialism, leading Edinburgh City Council to apologize for the suffering caused by the city’s involvement in the trade.

Asked about the slavery course last night, a Police Scotland spokesperson reiterated a previous statement from Ms Farrell in which she said “people from all communities need to know that when we talk about ensuring the safety of people, we think of them.”

She said: “All communities should feel able to speak to the police, report a crime or share information.

“I want people in all communities to see policing as a potential career.”

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