Scottish Government
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Protecting police and fire services

Scottish Government proposals to safeguard frontline police and fire and rescue services in Scotland are a step closer, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said.

It follows the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill successfully passing Stage 1 of the parliamentary process. The new services aim to go live on April 1, 2013.

The legislation: 

  • Cuts duplication across services, saving £1.7 billion over 15 years
  • Protects local services by focusing resources on the frontline
  • Strengthens the connection between the services and the communities they serve by establishing a senior officer for each local authority area to shape local services
  • Sets out a detailed framework for the new services for the first time
  • Allows regular Parliamentary scrutiny of policing and fire and rescue services
  • Is clear that only the Chief Constable has direction and control of the police service
  • Ensures equal access to specialist and national support whenever and wherever it is needed
  • Creates a powerful new Scottish Police Authority, independent from Ministers, to hold the Chief Constable to account
  • Establishes the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner to ensure public confidence in policing. 

Mr MacAskill said: 

“I would like to thank Parliament for passing stage 1 of the Police and Fire Reform Bill. This is a major step forward in securing the future of local police and fire services in Scotland. 

“We know crime is at a 35-year low, clear-up rates for violent crime are at a 35-year high, helped by over 1,000 extra police officers we have put on the streets since 2007. Fire deaths are almost 50 percent lower than a decade ago. 

“This is a record to be proud of, and this Government is taking decisive action to protect it. We will not let Westminster cuts decimate our services - be it police on the beat or frontline firefighters.  

“South of the border, an estimated 16,000 police officers are likely to lose their jobs. I am determined this will not happen here. Single services will save money by cutting needless duplication and doing things differently - working more effectively and efficiently, delivering estimated savings of £1.7 billion over 15 years.  

“This Bill creates a stronger connection between services, councils and communities, with local services tailored for local needs and ensuring equal access to specialist support such as murder investigation and flood rescue. Services will remain independent of Ministers, but subject to more scrutiny from Parliament.  

“As well as two formal consultations we have worked closely with the services, staff associations, trades unions and local government to shape our proposals. We have listened to officers, senior officers and staff in both services, as well as communities across Scotland. And we have listened to the work of the four Committees who have considered and scrutinised the Bill. 

“That is why the chiefs of the new services will be appointed earlier, with a Chief Constable expected to be in place by autumn and the recruitment process for a Chief Fire Officer beginning shortly. This will help maintain the momentum which has been building on the detailed transition work, and ensure the services are ready for April 1, 2013. 

“We will consider the size of the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board. We need to ensure we have the right combination of members with the right skills and experience to govern the services effectively and hold their chief officers to account.

“And we will continue to listen. To parliament, to the services, to the results of 16 Pathfinder pilots trialling the new local arrangements and through the Bill Sounding Board we have established. Working together, we will deliver a robust and effective piece of legislation which will protect and secure the future of our police and fire and rescue services for Scotland’s communities.”

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