Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has today welcomed the publication of plans to secure future of police and fire and rescue services in Scotland.
A single police and a single fire and rescue services in Scotland will bring local services to the centre of communities with every local authority having its own local commander and local authorities agreeing local policing plans with the commander.
Linda said “The Scottish Government’s Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill will put local knowledge at the heart of delivering services in communities across Scotland.
“Moving to a single police force will ensure the future of the force and the additional 1000 officers on the beat since the SNP came to power.
“The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill will see the establishing of “The Police Service of Scotland”. The current functions of fire and rescue authorities will transfer to the “Scottish Fire and Rescue Service” which will employ all staff from the current eight fire and rescue authorities to the new service.
“Today’s announcements will see Scotland’s police continue to make our country’s communities, streets and neighbourhoods safer.
“These necessary changes come on the back of potentially devastating Westminster cuts, however, we can and will do more with less, by focussing on a stronger connection between communities and their local police and fire and rescue services.
“The new structure of policing and fire services will see a local commander for every local authority area giving a real local point of contact and ensuring local priorities are decided by police and councillors working together.
“A single force is not unusual, countries including Denmark, Norway and New Zealand take this approach for a similar sized population. When the Tories and Lib Dems are slashing police numbers in England this approach will ensure that in Scotland we can continue to protect our communities properly.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said “Scotland enjoys world-class police and fire and rescue services – they are the lifeblood of every single community they serve. We know crime is now at a 35 year low, helped by 1,000 extra officers on the streets, while fire deaths are going down year-on-year.
“The stark reality is that budget cuts from Westminster will devastate our excellent frontline services if we don’t act now. This Government will not be complacent, we will not compromise on public safety and we will make sure that every community is served and served well.
“The reasons for reform are clear. We need to make a virtue of necessity. Make no mistake – this is the only way to make sure that we don’t lose the major improvements made to police and fire and rescue services in recent years.
“We have devised the strongest possible plans for the future of police and fire services in Scotland which reduce duplication, not the quality of vital services, and deliver estimated efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over 15 years. Today’s publication of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill follows two consultations and many months of sustained, regular engagement with police, fire and rescue services, boards, authorities and other interested parties.
“There will be a stronger connection between communities and their local police and fire and rescue services, with designated local senior officers and a statutory duty on both services to provide proper local provision. Local authorities will approve plans for their area and, rather than a handful of Councillors attending a regional board, many more Councillors will have a say in what happens in their area. I expect to see the Local Commander and Local Senior officer coming before the Council to explain and answer questions about police and fire services in the area.
“Our services will be independent, with no operational control from Ministers but subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. And our new services will be nothing without the skills and talents the workforce. Staff will transfer to the new services on the same terms and conditions.
“I would encourage all parties to get behind this legislation to secure the future of our police and fire and rescue services.”
Key aspects of the Bill include:
* Regular, formal opportunities for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise policing and fire and rescue services.
* Establishing the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service board to hold the Chief Constable and Chief Officer to account.
* Establishing “the Police Service of Scotland”, comprising a Chief Constable, other officers and police staff. The Chief Constable and other senior officers will be appointed by the SPA. All constables and police staff will transfer to the new service.
* Transferring the current functions of fire and rescue authorities to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. All staff employed by the current eight fire and rescue authorities will transfer to the new service.
* A statutory duty for the Police Service of Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to provide adequate local services
* A designated local policing commander and local senior fire officer for each local authority area, responsible for involving the local authority in determining priorities and objectives for policing and fire and rescue services in the local area.
* A Local Plan for policing and a Local Plan for fire and rescue services for each local authority area, agreed between the relevant local commander or local senior officer and the local authority, setting out priorities, objectives and arrangements for local service delivery.
* Complaint reviews and investigation of serious incidents and criminal offences involving the police to be handled by one independent body, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.
* The creation of an Inspectorate of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
The Bill is available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/576.aspx