By Dave Hunter
Police Scotland has moved to reassure the licensed trade that it is moving away from the previous “performance-driven” approach to policing and is committed to working “in partnership” with licensees moving forward.
Speaking at last week’s SLLP Big Licensing Conference, assistant chief constable Mark Williams said the force was changing its approach under new chief constable Philip Gormley, from the previous target-driven model towards what he described as “doing the right thing”.
“Let me be blunt: we have been a performance-driven organisation for the last few years,” said Williams.
“But often hitting targets means missing the point, and the new chief constable is very committed to doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons, not hitting targets.
“There are absolutely no targets attributed to licensing as such.”
Gormley took over as chief constable in January, succeeding Stephen House.
Williams pointed to the recent launch of Police Scotland’s Innkeeper system – a national police database used to record licensing information across Scotland – and the establishment of the national licensed trade forum as examples of the trade and police working together.
“What I absolutely seek going forward is a shared approach to problem solving,” he said.
“There’ll be different ways to tackle issues across Scotland – it won’t always be the same.
“The policy unit, centrally, is not there to impose solutions on anybody. It’s about working with the industry, with partners, with local authorities, with licence holders, to make sure we work better together and more effectively.
“And I think the new national licensed trade forum is a step in the right direction.”
He also signalled that the force is aware of changing alcohol consumption habits across the country.
“Let’s be clear: crime is falling,” he said.
“There is a link between violence and alcohol, and what is particularly interesting to me is that public space violence continues to fall pretty steadily, and within licensed premises it’s falling as well – which is a huge credit to [the trade],” he said.
“But private space violence is going nowhere fast. It’s pretty static. And as a proportion of overall violence it’s far greater than it was twenty years ago.
“If you then look at the link between people’s behaviour in their own house and their relationship with alcohol, it’s availability and where it’s coming from, there are discussions to be had.
“I won’t go into more detail on that, other than to say I think it’s relevant and something, from a policing context, we need to be aware of.”