Sunday 2 January 2011
The headlines today concern the policing of Scotland. It's reported that a Ministerial Statement will be issued by the Scottish Government on 12 January to the effect that the government will be indicating in their manifesto the intent to move to a single force in the future.
Is this good or bad news for Scotland? Labour already support a single police force and should the SNP follow then that makes a majority for the idea. Back in October, at the SNP conference, Alex Salmond indicated a preference for three or four forces. What has brought about this change of mind?
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland is against the idea. No surprises there then. Would the amalgamation of our current forces effect the demise of ACPOS? If that was the case then it's certainly a plus.
The main concern about a single force has been coming from the Grampian Police and Northern Constabulary areas and that's understandable. Strathclyde is by far the biggest of the present eight forces in Scotland. Aberdeenshire is far removed from the Glasgow area and not only in distance. Both areas have differing social problems as well as a few in common and Grampian are worried that they are consumed by the much larger Strathclyde methods.
I certainly think that eight police forces is excessive, particularly now that IT has finally come of age within this public service. It has taken years for IT to work effectively but I'm reliably informed it does now save many man hours.
Whether we could manage with a single force or would be better provided by three or four, I haven't yet decided. What I'd like to know is the reason(s) for the SNP's change of heart before I make a final judgement.
In the right-hand column I've put up a wee poll. Please vote if you have time. The results will be interesting.