Scotland: Plans for a National Police Service

Plans are being set out by the Scottish Government to reform its police force authorities into a single national force amid claims by local authorities that not enough discussion has been held on the issue.

The Scottish Government has said that wide consultation on the matter has and is still taking place, but legislation is likely to be brought forward to after the summer period. A government spokesperson said that following the UK budget cuts the “status quo cannot continue” and that reform is “vital to protect and improve local services”. Due to the cuts being imposed by the UK parliament Scottish Police Budgets are expected to drop by about £1.7 billion over the next 15 years.

However the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), which represents 32 councils is not happy about what they see as the centralisation of Scotland’s eight police forces and are currently preparing a conference to discuss the options further. One critic and former president of Cosla, Sir Charles Gray, has said that the creation of a single national police force under the control of one chief constable could lead to a “police state”.

First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, pointed critics to research undertaken by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), which found 25 per cent of the £1.4 billion annual police budget is spent on administration. Salmond added:

“At a time of huge pressure on public spending, is it not appropriate that with our partners in (local authorities) and the chief constables we look at whether that figure can be cut so that the front line of police can continue to be protected.

“For most people the measurement you make in terms of the effectiveness of the police service is the visibility of a police presence in our streets,” and suggested that the re organisation of the country’s police forces was needed to enable more police officers to be present on the streets.”

It is expected that the announcement to merge the eight police forces into one since national force will be announced next month and although a vote on the matter would be needed at Holyrood to make the reform, it is expected that with the Scottish National Party (SNP) majority in the Parliament the legislation is expected to be approved.

This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
M: 0044(0)7787318666

gensec@celticleague.net

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

23/08/11

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