Thursday, May 24, 2012

Police & Fire reform bill amendments aim to tackle criticisms of unaccountability in plans to create single Scottish Police Force & Fire Service

JUSTICE SECRETARY Kenny MacAskill has today announced further amendments to plans to create a single Scottish Police Force and a single Scottish Fire Service. The amendments aim to tackle some of the criticisms levelled at the Scottish Government’s plans over the lack of accountability and fears the Police Service in Scotland will become as politicised as in the rest of the UK.

Scottish Government Press Release :

Improving police and fire reform


Amendments to ensure police and fire reform plans are as robust as possible have been announced by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill today.

The series of Stage 2 amendments to the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill have been tabled by the Scottish Government, listening to recommendations from the service, staff associations, the Justice Committee and others.

The amendments aim to improve and strengthen the legislation which has already been agreed in principle by the Scottish Parliament.  They include:

* Ensuring the Chief Constable is consulted by Ministers before the strategic police priorities are determined
* A requirement for the strategic police priorities to be laid before Parliament
* An amendment to give the Chief Constable responsibility for preparing the Annual Police Plan with a duty to report on progress against the plan to the Scottish Police Authority
* Amendments to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner including clarifying the role of the Scottish Police Authority and Chief Constable in referring serious incidents
* Allowing the Chair of the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Fire and Rescue Board to be appointed independently from other members to ensure openness and transparency
* An obligation to ensure members of Scottish Fire and Rescue Board act in a way that is transparent, accountable and reflects best practice.

Mr MacAskill said in a lengthy statement : “This Government is absolutely clear that moving to single services is the best way forward for Scotland and the best way to protect frontline police and fire and rescue services, the 35-year low in recorded crime, the 50 percent reduction in fire deaths in a decade and the 1,000 extra officers we have put on our streets since 2007 while the UK Government prepares to cut 16,000 police officer posts. The Police and Fire Reform Bill has already been agreed by Parliament in principle. It is a strong piece of legislation, but this Government has always said that we don’t have a monopoly on wisdom. We have worked closely with the service, staff associations, trades unions and local government and have formally consulted the public twice to shape our proposals. We have listened, we are listening and we will continue to listen.Meanwhile our commitment to bring forward the appointment of the Chief Constable and Chief Officer to ensure early certainty and lead the services through change is a key example of this Government responding to concerns. This was one of the key issues identified by a range of stakeholders and will help ensure a smooth transition. Many of the proposed amendments have been raised by the service, the Justice Committee and others and we are more than happy to take their advice on board to clarify and strengthen the Bill and ensure that this legislation is as robust as possible.”

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