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Police Scotland chief Sir Iain Livingstone to retire this summer

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone has announced he is stepping down after nearly six years in the top job.

Sir Iain told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on Thursday: “I have decided to retire from the office of chief constable later this year. I will retire from policing in the summer.”

A serving police officer since 1992 when he joined the then Lothian and Borders force, Sir Iain rose to the top of the Scotland-wide force as interim chief in September 2017, before being appointed chief constable in August 2018.

Sir Iain said: “The police officers and police staff of Police Scotland are outstanding. Leading them as chief constable to serve the people of Scotland has been the honour of my working life.”

Sir Iain Livingstone
Sir Iain Livingstone was knighted in January (PA)

The 56-year-old, who was knighted in January during a ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, has led Police Scotland through the coronavirus crisis, during the Cop 26 climate summit in Glasgow, and oversaw the force’s role following the death of the Queen.

He described Police Scotland, which was created in April 2013, as a “maturing organisation”.

He told the SPA meeting: “Our single national service in Scotland represents major public sector reform and has delivered significant value to the public and best value to the public purse.

“Operational competence has greatly benefited, a clear example of that being a record of responding and investigating and solving murders and our response to major events.”

Sir Iain was appointed as acting chief after Phil Gormley was suspended during an investigation into gross misconduct allegations, which he denied before quitting.

The independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner had received five misconduct referrals regarding Mr Gormley from the SPA.

Announcing his resignation, Sir Iain told the SPA meeting that policing is relentless, and added: “I consider the stability which now exists will endure through and also enable a managed transition to a new chief constable over the coming months.

“I will work relentlessly to ensure this occurs.”

Sir Iain Livingstone
Sir Iain Livingstone said being chief constable ‘has been the honour of my working life’ (PA)

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack thanked Sir Iain for his “long and dedicated service with Police Scotland”.

The minister added: “He has played a key role in ensuring the security of the whole of the United Kingdom as part of the UK’s police family.”

Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the outgoing officer can be proud of the “strong and inspiring leadership he provided”.

He added: “Sir Iain leaves the second largest force in the UK in great shape as it prepares to mark its 10th anniversary – and that is a fitting and lasting legacy to his life of service.”

Sir Iain’s retirement announcement came as he and Lynn Brown, chief executive of the SPA, presented a paper to the meeting which warns policing north of the border is “unsustainable”.

The paper said: “Police Scotland has often absorbed the impact of wider public sector financial challenges and is taking responsibility in situations where the police service is not the most appropriate service to respond.”

“This position is unsustainable in the long-term and detracts from the ability to intervene effectively at the critical end of risk and harm.”

In the chief constable’s report to the committee, Sir Iain warned there is “unprecedented financial pressures upon the public sector” and that “hard choices lie ahead to deliver effective policing within the revenue budget”.

Before joining the police, Sir Iain was a solicitor in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.

In 2015, he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.