Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cosla chief Rory Mair has a fear over policing accountability as Scotland moves towards a National Police Force, not a problem for other agencies

Dear All

The single national police idea has attracted a lot of comments and fear from certain vested interests, when people should be recognising this as an opportunity.

In Scotland, there are several agencies that operate on a national basis in the law enforcement area.

We have British Transport Police, the Scottish Prison Service and the UK Border Agency to name but a few.

With a vast majority capable and able to operate at this level, why can’t a police force?

There is no reason why a national force cannot do the same job as those agencies listed above.

The fear element is from those politicians who stand to lose money sitting on police boards, in some cases as much as £20k.

The Tories and Labour have joined the SNP Government at national level supporting this, money focused minds because of budget cuts but the idea is sound.

Sound if it is done correctly.

At the weekend I first saw the name Rory Mair in a quiz I was taking part in, until then I had never heard of him so I looked him up.

Rory Mair is chief executive of local authority body Cosla.

So, he can run a national organisation which is the umbrella group of all Scotland’s 32 Councils.

Here is something I found regarding Rory Mair.

“East Renfrewshire Council's interim sports and recreation manager Rory Mair has been appointed chief executive of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

One senior local government figure said his appointment suggests there were no 'big-hitters' interested in the top job at the troubled COSLA.

He said:

'He is a former chief executive so they have managed to attract a fairly good calibre of applicant. But I think that if a really heavyweight chief executive had gone for it, they would have got it.'”

That is why I have never heard of him, he isn’t regarded as a “really heavyweight chief executive”.

His concern is that the Government’s plan to reduce Scotland’s eight forces to one would make the police service “the same as Scottish Enterprise or any of the other quangos where we’ve had concern about the level of local democracy”.

I think this says a lot about Mair personally.

The new national force will be accountable, both locally and nationally.

The idea that people would even think that the fiefdom culture has any place in the new force is total wrong and misguided.

Police will have day to day operation control as normal but it wouldn’t be a case that they will not be answerable for their actions.

Rory Mair made his remarks a conference in Edinburgh on police reform.

He added:

“Instead of there being 1200 individuals elected locally who can have a say in the service, we’re talking about an appointed board of 20 or so souls appointed by the minister who will do that job on behalf of the whole of Scotland.”

However, David O’Connor, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, insisted a single force was the best way to maintain numbers as part of a balanced workforce.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said reform was vital and added:

“We have already consulted widely on the case for change, including sustained dialogue with Cosla and many other stakeholders in local government including chief executives, council leaders and board conveners.”

I favour a national police board, retain current local boards and a cross party stand alone Holyrood Committee at the Parliament as offering the best way to address these issues.

We will have to wait and see if other people’s vision matches my own.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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