“It is a joy to police the variety that Scotland offers, stretching from as far north as Shetland, with a massive focus on energy and oils, right down to the Borders, which are incredibly rural and agricultural, to the Western Isles where you can look west across the Atlantic to the USA, to the east with Edinburgh, a world heritage site.”

Police Scotland

years, we have been on an extraordinary journey together.” The development continues: “We have done the transitional, practical work and now operate in a consistent way.” She explained that the next stage is for the transformational work. “The exciting work is just beginning. Many organisations are at the same stage now, with the need to move to the next level to address austerity, cyber, globalisation, international challenges, terrorism and serious and organised crime, all requiring us to think in a very different way.”

The benefits of a national police force

The move to a national police force has brought many benefits, not least the ability to achieve a more consistent service, higher standards and equal access.

Rose explained how the structure brings many advantages: “In previous days, if there was a murder, for a small force this would involve a massive shift of local policing resource to support that investigation. Now we can carry on running local policing without moving resources and with more equitable access to specialist investigation teams.”

She shared a further example. “One year ago, there was significant flooding in some parts of Scotland. A Local Area Commander told me she had all the resources she needed within an hour, where it took two days previously.”

But the best advocates of the newly formed service are people who have experienced it and those who hold the service to account. One example is the victim of domestic abuse.

“Previously, a woman victimised by a man who picks on vulnerable women and who moves between police areas would be difficult for legacy forces to tackle. Now we have a single database and a consistent approach to domestic abuse. It is a priority. We are extremely proactive in this area and look for previous and past partners with the aim of


reducing harm. We have brought to justice several serial and long-term perpetrators. They are now in prison, serving long sentences. We can say without doubt that we have prevented domestic murders and serious sexual violence, because of this approach.”

Learnings for other organisations

We asked Rose to share some of the learning from the past four years that other organisations could benefit from. She began by focusing on planning: “Of course, at some point you must press the button and just get on with it, but time spent in planning is never wasted; if you can, double the time you spend on that. “ Second, she identified that “Communication is critically important, both internal and external, you can’t do enough, telling people what is happening, what your intention is, how they can contribute and what you expect to happen next.” This includes celebrating success and Police Scotland focused on that in January with the Scottish Policing Excellence Awards.

The need to engage and involve people is a key area for Rose, as she explained: “If the case is sound, people will see it and will understand why it’s necessary.” Of course, a police force has many stakeholders to consider. Not least national and local government. In Scotland, there was a clear political will which enabled legislation and change to take place. “We had national government support, including the commitment for Reform Funding.” Without these, it is unlikely the move to a national force would have come about.

Most senior female police officer in Scotland

As one of the most senior female police officers in the UK, and the most senior female officer in Scotland, Rose’s views on supporting women’s progression are clear. “We all have responsibility in this area. For me, it’s a little too obvious to say that it’s just an issue for

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senior women. I have a personal responsibility to help people up the ladder behind me. And I’m very lucky to work with a team of senior officers who believe it is just as much their responsibility too.”

Rose believes women have come a long way and should not forget the considerable progress made. The celebrations for the 100 years of Women in Policing in 2015 highlighted this progress, and one encounter, in particular. “I witnessed a woman from Falkirk, who many years before had to leave policing when she got married, speaking to a probationer constable who had been a teacher and was a mother with two children, who had just come into policing.” The difference in experience is clear.

Police Scotland innovates in its entry process for women and ethnic minorities. One such example is the removal of the requirement to hold a driving licence after learning that only 60% of women in Scotland have one. It was a barrier. Additionally, they are looking into the assessment centre, including the fitness test: “There are reliable alternatives to the dreaded bleep test. We need to go back to the principle of what is occupationally relevant; there are different standards of fitness required for different police jobs. We are looking at the best and latest research on how to properly assess people.”

Advice for the twenty-seven-year-old Rose

We finished our interview by asking Rose what advice she would give her 27-year-old self to best prepare for her policing career. “You’re here because of what you offer, you don’t have to become a different person. Learn to do your job, stretch yourself. But you are at your best when you are you, be yourself. And don’t over-prepare!”

Andrea Berkoff Editor, City Security magazine

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