Kenny Mac Askill, Scottish Justice Secretary (centre above) has urged police forces to share services and admitted that the police's current structures were no longer possible in the face of £35 billion cuts from the Scottish public services budget over the next 15 years.
He raised the spectre of radical reorganisation when he said that back office mergers would have to take place across forces to reduce duplication of effort. "We are a small country and we can no longer afford to do everything eight times over," he warned.
Restructuring of Scotland's police forces has proved a deeply divisive issue in the past. HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland suggested last year the creation of a single Scottish force to meet the challenges of the economic crisis but this was fiercely resisted by the eight chief constables.
Of course chief constables will want to protect their own power base, but that's not necessarily good for the public purse or the country. As Kenny MacAskill says, "There is a need for fresh thinking and new approaches." That's fine as long as it doesn't mean civilian taking over tasks which should be undertaken by a qualified police officer.