Contested Spaces: The Politics of Strategic Police Leadership in Scotland

  • Kath Murray
  • Ali Malik


In April 2013 the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 amalgamated Scotland’s legacy forces into a single police force, Police Scotland. Focusing on the distribution of power and role of government in the post-reform period, this chapter examines the conditions or spaces in which police leaders in Scotland operate and discusses the implications for strategic leadership. Drawing on a range of evidence, the chapter examines the ramifications of a centralised political hold on Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), the two bodies tasked with developing the strategic policing direction. The analysis suggests that reform has politicised the space in which strategic planning is negotiated and, by the same token, restricted the ability of police leaders to set out what the organisation proposes to do and how it will be achieved. The analysis is supported by two short case studies that show how Scottish Government policies on police officer numbers and the absorption of British Transport Police functions into Police Scotland respectively limited the ability of police leaders to develop longer-term organisational strategies.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kath Murray
    • 1
  • Ali Malik
    • 2
  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Northumbria UniversityNewcastleUK

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