Sir Stephen House likely to leave Police Scotland next year

Image caption Sir Stephen was previously chief constable of Strathclyde Police

Scotland's most senior police officer has indicated he is likely to leave the post when his contract ends next year.

Sir Stephen House became the first chief constable of Police Scotland when the new single force was created in 2013.

His four-year contract is due to end in September 2016.

In an interview with the Herald newspaper, Sir Stephen said he was "unlikely" to apply for a second contract.

He said: "September 2016 will get me to somewhere like 35 and a half years in policing, probably a fair innings.

"The idea of me applying for a second contract is unlikely."

Sir Stephen oversaw the complex amalgamation of Scotland's eight regional police forces into a single national force, which is the second largest in the UK.

Stop and search

Since then, he has overseen successes such as the policing of last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But his decision to put armed officers on routine patrols, as well as the controversy over the force's policy on stopping and searching juveniles, put him on a collision course with politicians.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie told the annual conference of the Scottish Police Federation on Wednesday that his party no longer had confidence in Sir Stephen, and called on him to "change his ways" or go.

Mr Rennie said politicians had "too often" been told one thing by the force's leadership on a list of controversial issues including stop and search, armed police and targets only to discover they were "untrue".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month she has "full confidence" in Sir Stephen.

In an interview for the BBC's Scotland 2015 programme on Thursday, Sir Stephen admitted the speed at which Police Scotland had to be set up meant it had not been able to "go as carefully as we should have done", and said some things "could and should" have been done better.

He added: "I can tell anyone hand on heart that I have never been more accountable than I am now, and if you talk to any of my senior officers, divisional chief superintendents running different parts of policing in Scotland, they will all tell you the same thing.

"(We are) far more accountable under the new system in Police Scotland than ever was the case when there was eight forces."

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