Police Scotland's new chief constable takes up role

Jo Farrell becomes the first woman to hold the job following Sir Iain Livingstone's retirement earlier this year.

Jo Farrell takes up her role as chief constable of Police Scotland on Monday.

She will be sworn-in during a ceremony at the Scottish Police College in Tulliallan, Fife.

Farrell becomes the first woman to hold the role following Sir Iain Livingstone’s retirement earlier this year and takes over a force facing numerous challenges.

Last week, Police Scotland announced it is postponing an intake of 200 probationary officers in January amid funding pressures.

The force also said it will pause all training and redirect officers to support and maintain operational policing over the busy festive period.

As well as staffing and funding pressures, Police Scotland came under the spotlight earlier this year when Sir Iain admitted the force is institutionally racist and sexist.

That followed the publication of a review of the culture within Police Scotland that revealed accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia by serving officers.

Furthermore, Ms Farrell will assume overall responsibility for the conclusion of the force’s investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances – dubbed Operation Branchform.

Earlier this year, former party chief executive Peter Murrell, then party treasurer Colin Beattie and former first minister Nicola Sturgeon were arrested in relation to the probe, all being released without charge pending further investigation.

Ms Farrell joins Police Scotland from Durham Constabulary.

She was appointed by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) following a six-week assessment process and takes up the post on a salary of more than £232,000 per annum.

During her leadership of Durham Constabulary, the force was involved in high-profile investigations into political figures.

In May 2020, it faced demands to interview then prime minister Boris Johnson’s aide Dominic Cummings over lockdown breaches.

It also cleared Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of breaking lockdown rules in the “beergate” investigation.

Ms Farrell began her career as a constable in Cambridge aged 22, becoming the first person in her family to join the police and fulfilling her childhood ambition.

Later, she joined Northumbria Police, before moving to Durham in 2016.

When she became its chief constable in 2019, she was the first woman to enter that role.

During her time in charge, the force introduced a new approach to dealing with rape suspects, aimed at putting offenders under deeper scrutiny and identifying repeat offenders.

Following her appointment earlier this year, she said: “This really is a day of mixed emotions.

“I am immensely proud to have served as chief constable of Durham and equally proud of everything the force has achieved over that time.

“Over the last six years, I have worked with some extraordinarily talented and committed people, dedicated to keeping County Durham and Darlington safe, and it has been a very difficult decision to leave.

“But as chief constable of Police Scotland I have been offered a unique opportunity to take on one of the most exciting and challenging jobs in UK policing.”

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