Monday, March 30, 2009

Further calls for debate on single Scottish Police force

The recession might end up forcing Scotland to accept a single Police Force, as Chief Constables ponder their future in the small regional forces (savings on the top brass’ pensions if it comes ? – Ed)

The Herald reports :

Police chiefs urge debate on case for single force in Scotland

Exclusive by LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter March 30 2009

Leading chief constables have made unprecedented calls for an immediate debate on whether Scotland should move towards a single national police force.

Stephen House, chief constable of Strathclyde, believes the economic situation and growing challenges from serious and organised crime make it vital to have the discussion about whether Scotland should be policed by eight, three or one force.

His calls to address national threats and review the current position are backed by Kevin Mathieson, chief constable of Tayside, and Allan Burnett, assistant chief constable of Fife.

Their comments, after years of opposition to the idea by the majority of chief constables, come just a week after Paddy Tomkins, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, called for Scotland's eight forces to be amalgamated into one to remove duplication and save money.

"There is a line of thinking in policing which says if you have strong community policing it doesn't matter what the structures are above that, because the public relate to local cops," said Mr House. "Do they really relate to their chief constable? Politicians might but the public don't.

"How many police forces there are in Scotland isn't something they're particularly worried about. We are all spending public money and ought to be doing that as efficiently as possible. Whether that is through amalgamation or closer working together, that is what I think should be debated."

Earlier this month, The Herald also revealed that Brian Sweeney, chief officer of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, wants to see a massive restructuring of public sector services and believes reducing the brigades from eight to one would save millions of pounds.

With increasing pressure to make savings, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland is now discussing the thorny issue. Kevin Mathieson, chief constable of Tayside, told The Herald that he is not "wedded" to the current structures and that the debate should focus on improving Scotland's national response to policing.

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