Police and fire reform will transform services

The Scottish Parliament has today passed the Police & Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill at Stage 3, confirming its passage into law. The move will see single national fire and police services replace the individual police boards, ending unnecessary duplication of certain back office functions in particular. This is expected to save £1.7 billion over 15 years.

The Chief Constable of the police service will be accountable to the Scottish Police Authority, rather than directly to the Scottish Government, ensuring that the police will continue to be independent when it comes to carrying out their operations.

Each local authority area will have a designated local police commander who will agree a local plan with the local authority in which priorities and objectives will be set out. By giving every councillor a role in the operation of the police in their area, this will contrast with the current situation where police boards are made up of a small number of councillors from across multiple councils.

Welcoming the legislation SNP MSP John Finnie said

“The passing of this legislation is good news as it will make our police and fire services more sustainable for the future. Some aspects of policing and the support services that make it possible can clearly be better delivered on a single national basis and this legislation will let that happen.

“The SNP Government has delivered more police officers onto Scotland’s streets than there has ever been before and this reform will enable us to build upon that record.

“In the face of severe cuts to Scotland’s budget from Westminster, this legislation will protect Scotland’s police and fire services from the damaging moves we are seeing south of the border.

“Local communities will be empowered to have a greater input into their local services through creating a clearer, more direct link to all elected councillors instead of a select few.

“Despite some of the ludicrous scaremongering that some have seen fit to engage in, this is a positive move that is good news for the future of fire and police services in local communities.”