Local government leaders in Scotland have voiced concerns about the Scottish National Party plans to create a single police service and single fire service north of the border.
First Minister Alex Salmond (SNP) today introduced the reform as one of 15 proposed pieces of legislation for the current session.
But Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities president Pat Watters (Scottish Labour Party) questioned the efficiencies Mr Salmond claimed could be made through creating a single constabulary out of the nation’s nine existing forces.
“I am extremely disappointed with today’s announcement about a single police and fire service for Scotland,” he said.
“Looking at the statement, the only certainty here is that the government can do this so they are.
“Despite what they claim, there is no certainty that this reform will protect and improve local services, that this reform will keep communities safer or that this reform will strengthen the connection between services and the communities they serve, thus achieving better outcomes for communities.
“The reason that there can be no certainty in these areas is that the Government’s own business case does not address any of these things.
“The only conclusion I can draw is that this is a meeting of a manifesto commitment for the sake of it - a ticked box because they have the power to tick it rather than a thought through act that will benefit communities.”
Earlier, Mr Salmond said communities did not care about boundaries for services, but merely wanted them to work as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“After detailed considerationof all the evidence available, we are persuaded that a single police service and a single fire and rescue service are the right options,” he said.
“This is the only way to maintain the number of police officers serving all of the communities of Scotland.
“Single services will sustain and improve the delivery of local services, while giving all parts of Scotland access to national expertise and assets whenever and wherever they are needed.
“And single services will enhance national governance, ensuring clear separation from Ministers and the services, to ensure their continued operational independence.”