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Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill

The UNISON Scotland Submission

To the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament on - Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill

November 2005


UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Justice Committee's call for evidence on the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. UNISON Scotland represents over 3000 members across all Scottish Police Forces. Members are employed in a wide range of tasks including care and custody of prisoners, several branches of forensics and technical services for intelligence gathering. The Bill covers a wide range of areas from re-organising police support services to knife crime. UNISON Scotland's response will though focus on those areas that impact upon its members amongst Police Staff and notification of public processions.

UNISON Scotland can support in principle the national delivery of services and the creation of an Independent Police Complaint Authority but these changes will have a big impact on Police Staff. UNISON Scotland expects to be fully involved in the development and implementation of any changes in order to support its members. UNISON is also supports change around notifications of public procession but would like to ensure that the Bill gives more clarity about when the 28 day rule can be waived to ensure that the public and trade unions can organise demonstrations at short notice.


Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency


Membership of the Service Authority Board

While UNISON Scotland does not in principle oppose the setting up of a single service authority to provide police support services we are disappointed to note that the proposals for the membership of the board do not take account of the large number of Police Staff whose employment would be transferred to the proposed agency. Approximately 98% of people working at the Scottish Criminal Records Office are Police Staff and only 2% are Police Officers. As well as ACPOS representatives UNISON believes staff should have direct employee representatives on the Board. Health Boards currently provide a model for this type of representation.


Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency

While UNISON Scotland does not oppose the creation of this agency we are concerned about how transfer to the agency would affect the terms of conditions of employment of current Police Staff. Many of our members would find their employment transferred to this new authority. Unfortunately this Bill does not give detail on how the terms and conditions of staff would be affected during and after transition. UNISON Scotland therefore seeks assurances that the union would be fully involved in formulating the details of and setting up any new body.

The Bill does not state whether it will provide that the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulation 1981 (TUPE) will apply in relation to the terms and conditions of staff whose functions transfer from one body to another. UNISON wants this to be clearly stated in the Bill. Even if this is the case TUPE only provides limited protection for the workforce, especially in terms of occupational pensions. Some member's pensions are via the Police service and others via the Local Government Pension Scheme. UNISON Scotland would seek assurances that staff transferred to the new bodies would have continued access to their current schemes and that these pension schemes should also be accessible for new employees.

UNISON Scotland also has concerns regarding the relocation of staff and future staff numbers. These changes could mean either new offices being set up or the transfer of functions within existing premises. Police Staff could therefore find their current post relocated to another part of Scotland. This would mean that staff were faced with the stark choice of commuting, resigning their positions or being forced to move away from their families and friends, taking their children away from schools disrupting their education. Even commuting has an effect on families affecting either take home pay or increased time away from families due to travel time. If staff are forced to resign expertise will be lost. Fingerprint and forensic experts and IT personnel are rare and difficult to recruit and train. It takes many years experience to be an expert in these areas. Changes could also affect job numbers. UNISON Scotland requires further discussion/detail on how this issue will be addressed both during the change and in the future.


Police Support Services: modification by order

UNISON Scotland would expect to be considered as appropriate persons by Scottish Ministers to be consulted about modifications by order.

Independent Police Complaint Body

While UNISON Scotland is, in principle, not opposed to a single Independent Police Complaint Body the inclusion of complaints against police staff under this body has many implications for UNISON Scotland members and UNISON Scotland. UNISON must be involved in the development of the detail of how staff would be treated under the proposed system.

UNISON Scotland is also opposed to any changes that would lead to Police Staff being exposed to the same disciplinary measures as police officers. Police staff, while a crucial part of the police service, are employees. Police Officers are "office holders" and as such are subject to specific disciplinary measures that are not appropriate for Police Staff. Any changes to the complaint body cannot jeopardise the difference in their terms and conditions of employment. UNISON Scotland therefore expects to be fully involved in negotiations involving the setting up and running of any Police Complaints Body which covered its members.


Notification of Public Processions

UNISON Scotland recognises that marches and parades can and do affect the communities that they pass through. UNISON Scotland fully supports including "disruption of the life of the community" as a criteria when deciding on the right to hold a procession. We wholeheartedly support actions around the routing and frequency of marches that seek to or do intimidate the communities that they pass through such as sectarian marches and those of Far Right Organisations. However UNISON believes that any changes in the arrangement for the authorisation of marches and parades must not restrict legitimate political protest or protests during trade disputes.

UNISON agrees that, in general, 28 days is reasonable notice of an intention to hold a procession. It important though for the Bill to state the circumstances where this period can be waved. Events that people may wish to protest against (or show support for) may arise too quickly for the 28-day period to be accommodated: action after a certain date may be too late to influence a decision.

UNISON agrees that it is important that both the police and Local Authorities are given notice of proposed events. Communities that parades intend to pass through should also be given notice so individuals and community groups can formulate a response. Particularly when various groups often use the same routes over and over throughout the year.

UNISON believes wider issues should be taken into account such as incitement to racial hatred or inflaming sectarian tensions in areas or the impact of the total number of marches on a route.



UNISON Scotland is not in principle opposed to setting up a Scottish Police Service Authority or to establishing a Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. These changes have implications for our members. UNISON would therefore expect to be fully involved in both the development and implementation of these plans and for police staff as well as officers to be represented on the board of the authority. We would also like it to be clearly stated in the provisions of the Bill that TUPE applies. UNISON would also like to see the Bill be much clearer about exemptions from the 28 days notice for public processions. The laudable attempt to protect communities must not restrict legitimate protest or industrial action.


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For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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