Socialist Worker

Scottish top cop House’s downfall follows years of scandalous policing

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2469

Stephen House with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

Stephen House with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon (Pic: First Minister of Scotland)


Scotland’s chief cop announced last week he is to resign by the end of the year, almost a year earlier than planned. His resignation was prompted by a huge backlash over repeated scandals.

Under House’s reign stop and search figures went through the roof. Cops stopped children, and searches were often illegal.

Armed cops were deployed to routine incidents and officers spied on journalists.

House implemented the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) merging of Scotland’s police forces into a single one. As with the merging of the fire service it was used to conceal cuts.

It also reveals a reactionary streak running through the SNP. SNP justice minister Michael Matheson praised House’s “lasting positive legacy”.

The SNP resisted calls for House’s head but the pressure became unbearable with more reports on their way on the back of two more scandals. 

The death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody (see page 9) has brought a series of serious criticisms of Police Scotland’s actions, not least the treatment of Sheku’s family.

And the response to a report of a car crash not acted on for three days created huge outrage. John Yuill died at the scene and Lamara Bell later died in hospital.

The fight against House’s regime will continue—but seeing a top cop forced to resign is something to savour.


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