• September 15, 2013


The Police Service of Scotland has responded to the Celtic League following a letter sent to the Chief Constable of the new Force, Stephen House. The general secretary of the League, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, asked Chief Constable House a series of questions to determine the commitment the new Force has towards the Scottish Gaelic linguistic and cultural identity.
The full reply from Police Scotland can be found below, but it is noteworthy that the new Force is working towards an action plan to develop a Gaelic Language Plan for March 2014, which will include looking at matters of Corporate Identity and Communications. It seems that the new Scotland wide Force is placing greater emphasis on Scotland’s Celtic heritage than the majority of the police forces that existed in Scotland previously.

Police Scotland
Forward Command Base
Stirling FK8 2HD
13th September 2013

Dear Mr Tal-e-bot


Thank you for your letter dated 9th August 2013.

Since the 1st April 2013 the Highland and Islands Division of Police Scotland has undertaken the development of an action plan for the introduction of a force wide ‘Gaelic Language Plan’ for Police Scotland. As you will be aware prior to Police Scotland coming into effect on 1st April 2013, Northern Constabulary had developed a ‘Gaelic Language Plan’ which received approval from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and which was publicised at this time. It should be recognised that at present no formal requirement has been made on Police Scotland to produce a ‘Gaelic Language Plan’.

Officers from Police Scotland have met with staff from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to discuss the development of a plan and the benefits that could be realised from taking forward aspects of the previous work undertaken by Northern Constabulary, such as the interactive ‘Gaelic Toolkit’ on the force intranet.

The intention is for Police Scotland to develop a ‘Gaelic Language Plan’ between now and March 2014 and whilst the Board of Bòrd na Gàidhlig would not be in a position to formally accept the plan it is their intention to officially welcome and support the work of Police Scotland in taking the plan forward.

With reference to your specific question I hope the following is of assistance:

1. Police Scotland is currently working on an action plan to develop a Gaelic Language Plan for March 2014, this will include looking at matters of Corporate Identity and Communications.
2. There is no requirement for officers or police staff to be able to speak Gaelic or show a willingness to learn Gaelic to enter the Force. Police Scotland recognise the importance of certain events, such as the Royal National Mod. and have previously placed Gaelic speaking officers at these events, such deployments have proved successful and work will continue to support this. The work to develop the Gaelic Language Plan will include a nationwide officer and staff survey which will seek to understand the percentage officers and police staff that speak and read Gaelic and those who wish to increase their awareness to learn Gaelic, this information will allow us to develop future awareness and learning.
3. One aspect of the Gaelic Language Plan is to access the Gaelic Language Access Implementation Fund to assist officers and police staff to gain access to Gaelic lessons. The issue of attending whilst within work hours would be one for individual Divisional Commanders and subject to the requirements of their role. Gaelic language courses such as ‘Ulpan’ are recognised nationally and the intention would be similar courses for officers and police staff.
4. At present the intention is to develop a Gaelic Language Plan by March 2014 and this will look at force policies and procedures.
5. Whilst there is no formal mechanism in place to accept and reply to letters in Gaelic , the police service would acknowledge any letters and endeavour to reply as appropriate, this area of work is another aspect namely ‘Communications’ that the development of the force plan will consider.
6. The communities of Scotland are very diverse and the Police, whether it be regular officers, police staff, or through Special Constables, actively encourage persons from all communities to apply for these posts, Police Scotland, and previously the legacy forces, place diversity as a key area of work and through policies such as ‘Community Action Groups’; ‘Diversity Units’; Community Surveys’ and the involvement in community partnerships, the police service has engaged with the diverse range of communities in Scotland and will include to do so.
7. Whilst at present no formal notice has been served on Police Scotland to produce a Gaelic Language Plan, Police Scotland recognises the importance of early involvement in detailing the support and awareness within the police service for the Gaelic Language Plan for Police Scotland.
8. I hope that above details the work being undertaken by Police Scotland to embrace the Gaelic language within the police service, and the role it has as a public body in engaging and understanding the communities we serve.
Yours sincerely

Derek Penman
Assistant Chief Constable
Local Policing (North)

Lack of Gaelic a ‘Missed Opportunity’ Police Chief Told

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary, Celtic League:
M: 07787318666

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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