Scotland's top cop makes a public apology over 'Taxi-gate' scandal

Scotland’s top cop makes a public apology over ‘Taxi-gate’ scandal

  • Chief Constable Jo Farrell says sorry for ‘error in judgment’ 
  • She had used unmarked police car for 120-mile trip to England 

    Scotland’s police chief yesterday made a humiliating apology after using an unmarked car to take her on a 120-mile trip to England when a train was cancelled.

    In her first appearance before the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Chief Constable Jo Farrell said she had ‘re-directed’ a ‘road policing vehicle’ to take her home to Northumberland.

    The Mail revealed on Monday the officer who drove her across the Border during Storm Babet had turned on the unmarked car’s emergency blue lights on his way to pick her up in central Edinburgh.

    The disclosure sparked a row over the ‘misuse’ of police resources less than two months after she began her £248,724 job and the trip was dubbed a ‘taxpayer-funded taxi ride’.

    Police chief Jo Farrell made a humiliating apology after using an unmarked car to take her on a 120-mile trip to England

    Ms Farrell made the apology to members of the SPA board at a public meeting in Edinburgh, where she said Storm Babet had been one of the worst storms ‘in living memory’, creating ‘dangerous and challenging’ conditions.

    Meanwhile, she also made a desperate plea to the SNP Government for £128million of funding next year – in addition to an extra £5million of ‘contingency’ cash this year – amid a deepening financial crisis which could lead to a recruitment freeze next year.

    Ms Farrell delivered a mission statement outlining her vision for the force but paused to ‘publicly repeat an apology for an error in judgment’.

    She told those present: ‘With my usual police vehicle unavailable, I asked my office for a car to drive me home.

    ‘A colleague who had been visiting Police Scotland was also driven home in the same vehicle.

    ‘Having a road policing vehicle redirected to carry out this journey was an error of judgment.

    ‘I apologise unreservedly to my colleagues, to the Authority and to the public.’

    During Ms Farrell’s trip, on October 20, she was accompanied by Assistant Chief Officer Gary Ridley of Durham Constabulary – her former force – who was giving unpaid advice on issues such as reducing bureaucracy.

    The trip left the Lothian and Borders area with just one traffic officer on shift.

    Martyn Evans, chairman of the SPA, told Ms Farrell: ‘I want to recognise your apology for an error in judgment.’

    Meanwhile, Ms Farrell said that the £128million police were seeking from the SNP Government was crucial.

    She said: ‘Without that additional reform money, we are going to need to make difficult decisions as to how we police; my experience is that we will become a very reactive organisation.

    ‘So our priority becomes in the high-harm, high-threat area – but our engagement, our visibility and our proactivity minimises without that investment.’

    She said: ‘This is an organisation that has saved £2billion over the past ten years and is operating with over 500 or 600 police officers less than it was 18 months ago.’

    David Threadgold, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said a recruitment freeze would be ‘terrifying’.

    The Scottish Government said ‘despite difficult circumstances’ it had ‘increased funding by £80million to £1.45billion in 2023-24’.

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