Scotland’s chief constable has warned of more “unrest” and “demonstrations” as a result of the soaring cost of living.
Sir Iain Livingstone made the comments during Thursday’s meeting of the Scottish Police Authority, where he was giving his update to the board.
He made reference to how policing in the last few years had been in an environment of the unexpected – like living through the Covid pandemic – and dealing with big planned events like COP26.
The chief constable said his officers can expect the potential for what he called “social disharmony” – and more protests on our streets.
“The cost of living crisis will undoubtedly have significant implications for the communities we have the privilege to police,” Sir Iain said.
“Protest, demonstration and unrest may well become more frequent.
“Energetic, passionate protest and campaigning is of course part of the legitimate democratic process that we are here to protect, irrespective of the political position being advanced. However, violence and threatening abuse does not constitute legitimate protest.”
The chief constable also said the force was reviewing the aftermath of the scenes outside the Conservative leadership hustings in Perth last week.
Although no-one was arrested at the time of that protest, officers are still trying to establish if there was any criminality.
Sir Iain said it’s important people engaged in the political process are able to do so without abuse, threats and intimidation.
He said public safety has to be the priority for the police and hoped that while it’s going to be a difficult time people need to act with “moderation and respect” towards those who hold contrary views.
Sir Iain’s comments follow those of Tayside’s police chief who said an increase in shoplifting of food and essential items across the region is likely due to the cost of living crisis.
Speaking at a council meeting in Angus, Tayside’s chief superintendent, Phil Davison, warned the force has noticed “slight” changes in the type of items taken in such crimes recently.
He said there had been reports of citizens stealing basic necessities and said the force had concerns over the wider impact as more people struggle financially.