24 November 2023

Police chief accepts using force car to take her home was ‘error of judgment’

24 November 2023

Scotland’s new chief constable has apologised and accepted she made an “error of judgment” when she used a police car to take her home to England as Storm Babet lashed the UK last month.

Jo Farrell became Scotland’s top police officer in October, and prior to taking on the job she was chief constable of Durham Constabulary in the north of England.

But she has already had to apologise, after she used a police vehicle to take her home when the train she had planned to travel on was cancelled.

The incident happened on the evening of October 20, with the Sun newspaper reporting a Police Scotland car made the trip with an on-duty police officer behind the wheel.

I have apologised for this error of judgment

Ms Farrell confirmed she had requested her office “arrange for a car to drive me home to the Northumberland area after work”.

In a statement issued by Police Scotland, she added: “I was unable to complete the journey by train as services had been cancelled and my own police vehicle was unavailable.

“I have apologised for this error of judgment.”

Watchdogs at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) confirmed chairman Martyn Evans has raised the matter with Ms Farrell.

An SPA spokesperson said: “The authority is aware the chief constable used a police vehicle following the cancellation of a scheduled train journey.

“The chair has discussed this with the chief constable who has apologised. The authority considers the matter closed.”

Frontline officers who are bearing the brunt of these cuts, along with the paying public, deserve a full explanation.

But Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson Russell Findlay said frontline officers deserved an explanation from the Chief Constable about this “misuse of police resources”.

The Tory MSP said: “The new Chief Constable is tasked with making extremely difficult financial decisions due to SNP budget cuts, which makes her misuse of police resources even more jarring.

“SNP ministers created Police Scotland and its Scottish Police Authority oversight body, and they appear content with their ‘nothing to see here’ response to this incident.

“The SPA says this matter is closed but that’s not good enough. Frontline officers who are bearing the brunt of these cuts, along with the paying public, deserve a full explanation.

“There are many unknown details and unanswered questions, including what, if any, consideration was given to the safety of the officer who was ordered to complete this 250-mile round trip in dangerous weather conditions.”

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