This year it’s the centenary of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents – that’s 100 years of representing officers with key operational leadership roles within the service. There have been big changes in Scottish policing over that period, so it’s important for us to pause and reflect on policing’s place in today’s society, and where we’re heading in the next 100 years.

It’s also crucial to note that it is 11 years since the advent of Police Scotland, and those 11 years of being under a single force have really accelerated change. So it’s a good opportunity for us to look back on all the challenges that we’ve overcome as a service.

I’m very much looking forward to our Centenary Conference in May. We’re also delighted to be hosting the annual joint meeting of the executives for our sister organisations: the Police Superintendents’ Association, covering England and Wales; and the Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland. It’s a great opportunity for our colleagues from across the UK to get together and understand the challenges facing the Superintendent ranks throughout the whole of the region, as well as celebrating our centenary.

One of the main challenges that remains in Scotland is the number of Chief Superintendents and Superintendents, which is close to its lowest point in modern times. Because of some of the efficiencies that have been made in the service since the advent of Police Scotland, we’ve been able to reduce our numbers, often to the benefit of maintaining police numbers in lower ranks. However, we now need to draw a line in the sand.

One of my key concerns for our members is their welfare against that backdrop of an ever-reducing resource pool. Our members are in key operational roles, working in areas such as major events, firearms, public order duties, and being on call for high-risk missing persons. The demand on our ranks has never been greater. If you think about what was asked of Superintendents 100 years ago compared to what’s being asked today – the expectation, the demand and the scrutiny that they’re under – there’s a huge difference.

Another focus for us this year is that we’re trying to change the narrative around police officers, because the constant negativity has damaged the brand of policing. Police Scotland has a Code of Ethics and stringent vetting: it has just checked 23,000 employees in Scotland and only nine were found to have anything that required any further action, and only one of those nine was associated with any kind of criminal activity. No other workforce is exposed to that level of scrutiny and I think the public should be reassured by that.

The overwhelming majority of men and women in the service are out there, doing a great job every day and making so many sacrifices. We want to say to the public that you have an excellent service here in Scotland. We should be really proud of our officers, because the people we as Superintendents are leading do a fantastic job every day.