Michael Matheson confronted over poor police working conditions

The mother of a Scottish police officer who quit her job after 'relentless' shifts left her physically and emotionally exhausted has confronted Michael Matheson at the SNP conference.
Michael Matheson. Picture: John DevlinMichael Matheson. Picture: John Devlin
Michael Matheson. Picture: John Devlin

The SNP member, who joined the party the day after 2014’s independence referendum, told the Justice Secretary that her daughter had been forced to work 10-hour shifts without a toilet break.

Speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, the woman said her daughter’s experience was “common” within the service. In front of a shocked audience, she told the Justice Secretary that her daughter had resigned from her “dream” job after just three and a half years, unable to cope with the demands placed on her. “She is now physically and emotionally exhausted. She resigned about six weeks ago because there was no prospect of improvement in the service coming any time soon,” she said. “Why would she experience this? Relentless 10-hour shifts, most without a meal break, sometimes without a toilet break. “No quality of life due to the fact that the shift pattern may be changed, so if you’d made arrangements to see friends, it could be cancelled. So no family life, no social life.

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“Working with defunct IT systems, going out in response vehicles with 130,000-plus miles on the clock. No sat-nav. This is 2017.” ‘I am angry’ She continued: “She didn’t think the job would be a walk in the park, she was well aware of what she was taking on and I feel she’s been very let down. She’s not complaining, but I am angry. “Mr Matheson, I am a member of the SNP. This is not a Tory government in Scotland. This isn’t a Labour government in Scotland. “This is my party in Scotland and you are letting down your officers. “What would you say to my daughter? What would you say to her, and to the other officers that are on the edge of nervous breakdowns?” Responding, Mr Matheson said Police Scotland faced “financial pressures” in common with the nation’s other public services, but that the police budget had been protected like the NHS. “I’m sorry to hear about the experience your daughter had as a police officer. One of the areas which has not been adequately addressed within the service is around the whole issue of wellbeing of our police officers,” he admitted. “There’s clearly significantly more that the service needs to take forward in order to address these matters.” Read more: Man found dead in lay-by two days after call to Police Scotland After the meeting the Justice Secretary had a private conversation with the SNP member, who did not want to be identified and requested that her daughter’s name was witheld. He said: “I was very honest with her about the challenges that we’ve got within the police service as in other parts of the public sector. “No-one wants to hear the experience that her daughter had. These are issues that I don’t want to hear happening in the police service.” He added: “It’s very difficult when you hear the impact on an individual’s life, about how they’ve found it difficult within policing and the challenges they’ve encountered in the service. “It illustrates to me why it’s important that the service does more to address the issues around welfare and the wellbeing of their staff, which they are now doing.”