Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Scottish police force merger plan outlined, but the reality is the new National Police Force is the clear winner, George Laird right again

Dear All

The plans for major Scottish police service reforms are now out and moving to a single Scottish force.

The proposal is radical and with all radical proposals this engenders fear.

The fear of some people is that there will be asset stripping of resources to the central belt of Scotland.

The concern is valid but will be addressed; the move to a single force is about ensuring that frontline services can be properly maintained in all areas.

A National Police Force also means that local priorities will also be at the heart of reform.

When I attended my party’s national assembly last September, I already knew that moving from 8 to as few as 3 or 4 wasn’t the way forward, it was at best a stop gap measure.

The case for a single force is compelling.

I also said at that meeting that the same principles should apply to Fire and Ambulance Services.

Everyone doesn’t think twice about the fact that the Prison Service operates as a National Service.

Financial concerns over money have focused the minds of politicians which were the final nudge that set the ball rolling.

Localism as I said is a priority and to that end, I would like to see extensive development in expanding the numbers and role of Special Constables.

Recruited in local communities so people know the new force isn’t a distant concept.

Special Constables can address the local approach; the new National Police Force must be seen as a people’s force.

Accountability is important and as well as the National Police Board, we also need local boards.

There members can have local issues raised and addressed and local board members can be selected to sit on the National Board to give a better picture of Policing in Scotland.

And we also need external people unconnected to local boards to sit on the National Board as well.

A consultation gets under way next month and will outline three options for fire and police services - eight services with enhanced collaboration between them, a regional structure with fewer boards, or a single service for fire and a single force for police. Ministers said the case for a single "blue-light service", incorporating police, fire and ambulance, had not been made.

Labour ‘justice’ spokesman Richard Baker pressed the government to clarify its preferred option on police reform.

It’s a single force, no matter how much dancing around, cries of anguish and howls of protest from the dense; the new National Force is the future of Scotland.

The case is compelling, save money, protect front line services, reduced headquarters functions, more transparent, extending co-operation, removing fiefdoms and enhancing the fight against crime.

Eric Milligan of the Labour Party in Edinburgh who sits on the Lothian and Borders Police Board says the idea of a single force betrayed the localised history of Scottish policing and threatened the independence of the force.

The point of history which Councillor Eric Milligan fails to grasp is that history changes and in this case for the better.

A new National Service will have and deliver more autonomy to the frontline so even Councillor Milligan will have no legitimate complaints.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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