Friday, January 27, 2012

Move towards single Scottish National Police Force sees 2000 police workers being axed, sackings were always going to happen to protect frontline

Dear All

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

When I proposed the single national police force for Scotland at the SNP National Assembly in Perth on the 4th September 2010, I knew two things, the current setup was unsustainable and that if my idea was accepted there would be job losses.

A lot of job losses, of backroom staff, but given the financial situation and danger of frontline numbers being cut, the options were limited.

On a financial sense, the idea is sound, but regardless of finance other more important issues were at stake.

Public safety and increased operational effectiveness!

So, now the sting in the tail, 2000 civilian staff will be axed when Scotland's new single police force is created.

That is unfortunate but necessary and it was always on the cards, as to beat bobbies being left desk-bound that is speculative as the new national force isn’t even in operation.

Although, one-third of workers will lose their posts when the Police Service of Scotland is created in April 2013 that number will have to climb.

The reason is that the Scottish Government hasn’t a Plan McB, reformed is talked about as soundbytes but under the surface, despite people trying to give the impression that the ‘wheels are turning’, they aren’t.

Lots of use of the word, ‘change’ but no idea what kind of change, the timescale, the implications, indeed anything tangible to put to the electorate.

So, who gets the chop, staff who field calls from the public, court liaison officers, forensics, human resources and admin employees, all hitting the tiles.

There is a case of retaining forensics and such a move to dismiss these people would be counter productive.

Scaremongering has started with the Scottish Police Federation and Unison saying Police would be taken off the streets. Police are already taken off the streets in the current setup.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was unwise to write to Scotland's 17,000 police officers and civilian staff reassuring them they would keep their jobs.

That wasn’t going to happen; the SNP put forward a policy for a national police force, knowing that people were going to be sacked.

If they deny that was known that what they are really saying is that they are incompetent or naïve.

I can understand why the Scottish Government said this, and then turned around and said that ‘sackings’ would be a matter for the new Chief Constable, because they don’t want to face the tag that they sacked 2,000 people.

Instead, they prefer ‘sacking by proxy’ because they want to be everyone's 'friend'.

The result is still the same, people will lose their jobs.

You could look at this mentality in this way, Kenny MacAskill pulls a Glock pistol and puts a bullet through someone’s head by randomly firing and then wants to blame the guy who comes to clean up the mess and say it’s his fault.

Kenny MacAskill should accept responsibility for what he has done, because it is was necessary and there aren’t too many other viable options on the table.

There is no point in blaming others, the Scottish National Party adopted a policy and the direct result is that people were going to be sacked.

Cutbacks are already happening, 832 police support staff have been cut in the past year.

Scottish Police Federation chairman Les Gray said:

"Common sense dictates you should never dispense with civilian staff and replace them with police officers. Economically it is just plain daft. All of these staff contribute to the frontline. Without them the frontline would not exist."

Gray has never impressed me, and his protectionism and scaremongering isn’t helpful.

Peter Veldon, Unison's staff side-secretary for the police and fire services says members would be balloted about strike action.

He added:

"In the first year, there will be a threat to 2000 staff jobs. This will mean police officers – on double the salary – having to leave the streets to go back to their desks to do call-handling, forensics, intelligence and administrative work. The Government has a dilemma, though, because it has said there will be no compulsory redundancies. We have serious concerns about how this will work."

Mr. Veldon should accept the fact that change for the better is happening, there is no point standing in the way of destiny.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Councils have a liquidity problem, but solutions to this aren’t being solved.

In October, Mr MacAskill told officers in a letter: "All officers and staff in post when the new organisation is established will transfer to the Scottish Police Service on the day of establishment."

It added:

"We have also made clear ... there should be no compulsory redundancies."

Aye, aye, aye, very good, the reality will be less rosy.

Graeme Pearson, a Labour MSP and the former head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said:

"This comes from a minister who denied there were any cuts in the first place. I raised concerns eight weeks ago about the numbers of support staff that had already been cut and he indicated that was fanciful and there would be no substantial cuts."

Graeme Pearson should remember that the Labour Party has signed up to this to the hilt, pretty much everyone is onboard except the Lib Dems, I don’t know about Margo McDonald but really who cares what she thinks.

The new force is expected to cost £234m over five years, this is a huge saving, unfortunately, people will lose out, but this isn’t being done out of spite, it is being done to protect the service.

If the new force can get a few years to bed in, the stage two reform can happen, this isn’t a final solution to policing but rather a staging post.

At a future SNP National Assembly; I can layout stage two reforms, but let us get the new force up and running.

And sort out the kinks like the enlargement of the Police board to 20 members instead of the proposed 11, that was a serious mistake by the Scottish Government.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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