Way back in September of 2010, I was in the SNP, the opportunity came along to go to what the SNP call their National Assembly; their idea was to get ideas floated on how to change Scotland. For some time before I attended this event, I had an idea of a unified Police Force in Scotland, stage 1 bring all the forces under one command.
Stage 2; after independence move the new force along with other mergers and reforms to create a single law enforcement agency with several divisions which would encompass street policing, border control and customs.
In stage 2, the Police Service would become an armed service, the reason for this was practical; the Police Service would in the event of national emergency serve as an addition to the military. All new police officers would have to pass a basic soldiers test prior to doing police training.
So, with my ham sandwiches and pepsi I set off for Perth, not knowing what to expect basically I was popping my head round the door to see the lie of the land. At the event there were several tables which different topics were to be discussed, so I opted for the local government table with about 8 other people. The ‘chair’ was Marco Biagi who went on to be an MSP before doing a runner to academia.
I laid out my ideas, two in fact, the National Police Force and the National Fire Service, these two ideas were the only real policies to come out of the SNP second term in government, the event was hosted by Nicola Sturgeon, although I never spoke to her. It was also the first time I saw Joan McAlpine at an SNP event, she never attended events in the Maryhill and Springburn branch were she was a member, never did activism, never turned up to do a work day, passed as a candidate.
My idea for Police Scotland was straight forward, three tiers of accountability, local boards kept to designate priorities in an area, national board of about 20/25 people and a new Justice Committee formed at Holyrood called Justice 3. The members of Justice 3 wouldn’t be drawn from either the other two Justice Committees, what you got in reality was a botched plan by the SNP screwed up and implemented by Kenny MacAskill who was never a supporter of the project and the worst Justice Minister in Scottish history at Holyrood.
What can you say about the new SNP Justice Minister Michael Matheson other than where is he? Matheson is without a doubt a complete dud who is parked as a minister because behind him there isn’t anyone with talent.
So, the idea of Police Scotland took hold and we were told that there would be vast savings and that this would ensure front line police officers were available to serve communities and keep us safe.
That was the SNP pitch.
So, it is rather concerning to read that more than 50 Scottish police stations are ‘under threat of closure’, where did the money from the savings go?
Police Scotland is considering the future closure of 58 police stations as part of a review of its estate, I have no problem with police making choices but the question of why 58 stations may be put to the sword certainly merits an inquiry at Holyrood.
The force said some of the existing estate no longer fits the demands of policing in 2016; this is an interesting statement because centralisation of police services is counter-productive to the public good, the police should never be remote and you shouldn’t have to go hunt them out to make a complaint. In policing localism works and it should never be abandoned, no community should be left to feel unsafe.
The news of closure has perked the interest of opposition MSPs who have voiced concerns, but what about the concerns of the SNP MSPs?
Why are they quiet?
Is there one SNP MSP of any credibility who is willing to stand up and say no to this nonsense?
It hardly seems likely, the key to being an SNP MSP is that you don’t have talent, you don’t speak out and you don’t present a threat to the current leadership.
Conservative community safety spokesman Oliver Mundell said:
“When police station front counters were closed a couple of years ago, it was promised that police stations would stay open. Police stations are not like bank branches – it’s not about how many customers are using them, it’s about ensuring a safe and reassuring presence in the community. Ripping police stations out of communities is going to make that even harder, and erode the police presence in Communities right across the country.”
Quite so ma’am!
Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker said:
“Under the SNP, Police Scotland faces a £27 million revenue budget overspend. SNP ministers can no longer bury their head in the sand and claim that this will not have an impact on local policing. The overspend is forcing Police Scotland’s hand and the potential closure of local stations is just the next step for a force desperately trying to make ends meet.”
Justice and policing is an expensive business, the reason in part is the Justice system is incredibly slow from arrest to court date or dates, politicians always talk about change, but when the SNP deliver change it is usually chaos, this isn’t just a matter of bad judgement on the part of Police Scotland, it is also bad leadership which comes from Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Matheson who is rapidly becoming the forgotten man of his own Justice Department.
The Government can just see services like Police Scotland as places for the SNP to cut their budgets, there has to be a line drawn in the sand and recognised by all parties, less police makes us all less safe.
In my original idea for Police Scotland, there would have been an expansion of the special constable scheme to make localism of Police in the community a reality to the people of an area.
But you can’t trust the SNP to deliver, you can’t trust Nicola Sturgeon to deliver and as to Michael Matheson, perhaps it is time he came out from under whatever rock he is under and let us observes him in action, does he has any ideas of merit or can he show leadership.
Finally, I would pass a law de-criminalising drugs, then tax it and use the money to help pay for Police and other services, why should a billion pound a year industry be left in the hands of organised crime.
Some ideas are just too big for 'tampax' campaigner Nicola Sturgeon!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University