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Police Scotland "operating normally" amid crisis speculation

Scotland's justice secretary has maintained the country's police force is functioning as normal despite recent publicity about a possible leadership crisis. Michael Matheson MSP recognised that the latest events at Police Scotland had caused "understandable concern".

However, the Justice Secretary said the public should still have confidence in the force. Opposition MSPs accused Mr Matheson of complacency, and called on him to take responsibility.

Scotland's top police officer, Chief Constable Phil Gormley, was put on "special leave" in September after allegations of gross misconduct were pronounce, including claims of bullying inside Police Scotland. In November Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins was one of four officers suspended pending investigations after "a number of criminal and misconduct allegations" were made. This includes a claim that the practice firing range was used for unauthorised purposes.

Updating Holyrood on the situation, Mr Matheson told MSPs that he could not comment on the ongoing investigations, and that speculation was "unhelpful". And he said measures had also been put in place to ensure that the operations and training of the force's firearms and counter terrorism units were unaffected.

Mr Matheson said: "Operational policing continues, and the public can have confidence in the police service."

He also dismissed suggestion that the problems with the force's senior management team were evidence of poor performance across Police Scotland as a whole, pointing out that crime is currently at a 43-year low.

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