Until the historical amalgamation of Scotland’s eight police forces into Police Scotland in 2013 by the Scottish National Party (SNP) government, Scottish policing enjoyed low political visibility. In Loader and Sparks’s (2010) terms, policing resided in a ‘cool’ political climate. This paper argues these conditions hindered the critical interrogation of Scottish policing; allowing a policy of unregulated and unfettered stop and search to flourish unchallenged for two decades. The paper shows how the policy was swiftly dismantled in the ‘heated’ environment that followed centralisation, a move that gave rise to the unprecedented scrutiny of Scottish policing by media and political commentators. The analysis suggests that the legitimacy and reputation of the police may owe a debt to political environments that encourage either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ analysis. Also, that more heated political environments, often disparaged by academics and criminal justice practitioners, can drive accountability and contribute to more progressive outcomes