Friday, September 9, 2011

Justice Sec Kenny MacAskill makes hands-off pledge on single Police force, he should leave appointment of Chief Constable solely to Police Authority

Dear All

As the mood has shifted towards the new national police force, Kenny MacAskill has pledged there will be no political interference in the running of the new force.

That is the way to go and in my opinion, we have to go further and say that in the appointment of the new Chief Constable, this should be made solely by the new Police Authority.

They and they alone should appoint the person.

Tow reasons, to show their authority and to remove any hint that that this position is in anyway a political appointment.

You only have to look at the Met Police in London to understand that political interference in appointing their Commissioner has proven disastrous.

We need the new force to work, to get off on the right foot, and gain public confidence.

The Justice Secretary in statements has said that independent bodies would hold the chief constable of the new service and chief officer of a single fire service to account.

And one aspect which is needs to be driven hard home is that the new force will increase local accountability rather than as the detractors say lessen it.

The vested interest and scaremongering by local politicians and the Lib Dems is totally out of place.

Cosla, the body representing Scotland’s councils which is seen by many as a Labour controlled organisation isn’t onboard as some of their members stand to lose money they receive sitting on Police Boards.

£20k as Convenor of Strathclyde Police isn’t chicken feed.

Kenny MacAskill says he expects the police force to be operational by the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

So, the window for transfer is tight, it isn’t just a matter of changing the logo, cap badges and headed note paper.

The current eight forces will merge into one body, this means that the saving to the public purse will be staggering, £130 million a year.

Over five years, it will be £1.7 billion pounds; start costs are going to be in the region of £161m of start-up costs.

And I proposed the new single national police and fire service to the SNP National Assembly on 4th September 2010.

How many people can claim they helped to save £1.7 billion pounds?

And I have also other ideas for the reform of local government.

That is the next big challenge that has to be addressed probably in the second half of the SNP Governments term in office.

But those ideas on local government I will be keeping until such time as I sort a few things out.

Mr MacAskill insisted:

“On national governance there were legitimate concerns, particularly in relation to the police. There will be no political interference. We will ensure separation between ministers and the services by establishing new independent bodies to hold the chief constable and chief fire officer to account. Crucially, ministers will not be able to give instructions to the services on operational matters.”

So, why the new force, minds have been focussed by the scale of public sector cuts to protect frontline services which Westminster has imposed on Scotland.

The cake has to be re-cut.

Mr MacAskill added:

“Some people expressed legitimate concerns about single services, on centralisation, governance and accountability. Centralisation will not happen. We will improve local services and strengthen links with communities. On accountability, we will create a strong formal relationship between each of our 32 councils and the services. A designated local officer will have significant delegated authority to work with the council and other partners to shape and deliver services.”

Chief Constable Kevin Smith, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS) is more visionary when he said the new force benefit the police in tackling organised crime gangs, terrorism and cyber crime.

Single national police force, George Laird idea!

Smith said:

“Reform will provide us with the opportunity to continue that improvement and ensure we have a modern, highly adaptive service which will continue to deliver an excellent service now and into the future because this reform must last for generations.”

Stephen Curran, chairman of Strathclyde Police Authority, said:

“The biggest challenges will be ensuring this improves efficiency, strengthens delivery of the service and enhances accountability. Unfortunately the legislative framework proposed is short on detail and there is a significant piece of work missing on the enhanced local accountability. All our communities deserve a greater say in how their area is policed. Local councils are the best place to strengthen local accountability. However, the feeble local arrangements being proposed are tokenistic.”

Hardly a fan but I assume he will be sticking in his application to sit on the new police authority?

Labour’s justice spokeswoman Johann Lamont said the party wanted more detail on the transitional arrangements.
I don’t really see justice as the two Lamont’s forte, they never had any ideas of real value in the past and it is doubtful they will have any in the future or that soft policies.

The new national force is about major reform to structure, not a series of campaigns or initiatives which are big on presentation but little else.

Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont added:

“We can well understand the concern local people have with the issue of emergency service reform.”

John Duffy, Scottish secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the single fire service would build on “the commitment and sacrifice of previous generations, where we can remove the barriers to progress and where we can deliver a comprehensive, highly-skilled and highly-motivated rescue service”.

Cosla president Pat Watters, said:

“Despite what they claim, there is no certainty that this reform will protect and improve local services.”

Only because he can’t see the future, George Laird helped bring the future into the present.

£1.7 billion pounds saved over five years.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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