Friday, November 25, 2011

Scottish Borders Council wants 32 representatives on the National Police Board; this is a ridiculous number and badly thought-out, where’s the vision?

Dear All

On the 4th September 2010, I went to a Scottish National Party event called the National Assembly.

It was to propose the Scottish National Police Force as a viable idea not just in terms of cost savings but in producing better operational efficiency.

In my vision for the new force, the existing boards would be kept, as is the case in the current 8 board set up.

Above that there would be the national board drawing members from the 8 boards plus additional members from outside.

The Police like most public organisations get their budgets from the Councils and Scottish Government, however I envisaged that there would be a commercial aspect to their work to help pay for their upkeep.

Asset seizures from criminals in some part should be ploughed back into the Police in someway to help pay for their own upkeep.

Although I proposed the national police force at Perth, other issues were also in my thinking, a nationally armed force and that in an independent Scotland, the security of airports and customs would be also part of their remit.

Under a separate division, this division would operate in much the same way as customs already do.

Visas etc would be dealt with by a division within the new Scottish Home Office.

Police wouldn’t have any input into the issue of visas so that the system was completely impartial to ensure public confidence. In other words the police could get the opportunity to deny entry based on someone’s individual prejudice.

The UK border agency staff would also be absorbed into the Scottish Police, again a separate division to create a seamless ring of protection around our borders and within our borders.

In my idea the max number sitting on the National board would be around 20, eight current local board members, 8 ‘outsiders’ appointed by Scottish Government and 4 Police Officers of various ranks. This number could be adjusted by consultation to get the right mix.

An idea has been floated that there should be a representative from each of the 32 local authorities in Scotland to be on any future national police board.

That is nonsense, we need a national police board that is large enough to do competent work but also small enough to have decision making manageable.

At one point someone floated another idea of a representative from every city and town, not bright and not workable.

Scottish Borders Council Lib Dem Councillor Graham Garvie has put forward a motion against any plans for an appointed board of 11 members.

11 people is too small a group and doesn’t take into account future expansion of the Police in a post independence scenario.

The system needs overcapacity to take up future capacity.

Opposition SNP members and council leader David Parker said representing all councils could be unwieldy and they are right but by the same token, they aren’t visionaries.

They don’t see the future, someone has to tell them and then they agree.

However, at Scottish Borders Council they were outvoted by a combination of Tory, Lib Dem, Borders Party and Independent members.

Whether they can see the future is also open to debate, they know that 11 members is the wrong number but by the same token, 32, is an excessive amount.

The Scottish National Police Force will go ahead but unfortunately; no one is realising that stage two reform must be started immediately.

I didn’t see any point at Perth of going overboard by giving the additional remits to my idea because some are post independence changes.

I kept it short enough so they could grasp the idea without being overly complicated but luckily financial pressures came along at the right time.

Stage two reform must be started immediately in the event of a yes vote, people will have questions on a range of topics before this vote, if the work is done fears can be addressed, if not, then it weakens the referendum campaign considerably.

It is all about having the factual answers to everything.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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