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Police and fire reform in Scotland (07/09/11)
First Minister Alex Salmond has announced that the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation to establish a single service for police and a single service for fire and rescue.
In response, Councillor Ian Ross, Vice-Convener of the Northern Joint Police Board, said: “The Northern Joint Police Board presented a well argued case for a regional Police solution as part of the consultation process, but we must now respect the Scottish Government's right to take forward a single force structure in Scotland. It is important the Board continues to fully and constructively engage in the process of determining the detail of how the new single force will be organised and function. There have been indications from the Scottish Government that it will seek to enhance local accountability and retain current levels of local resourcing – this I welcome, but we need reassurances on how this will be delivered and maintained. It is crucial we protect and retain the high performing and community based policing outcomes we have rightly expected and become accustomed to in the Highlands and Islands.”
Northern Constabulary Chief Constable George Graham responded to the announcement saying: “Whilst a single Scottish police force was not the preferred model of many stakeholders, the Scottish Government has chosen this structure as the way forward. Now that a decision has been made, we must accept that decision, welcome the clarity it brings and move forward, embracing the opportunities together with the inevitable challenges. The implementation is likely to take a significant number of years and resources to complete. My priority in the meantime, is to ensure that the high quality policing service we provide in the Highlands and Islands is maintained, that our successful community policing style is continued and that the partnerships we have, are sustained and strengthened in any new structure. It will also be a key priority to contribute effectively and positively to the new design of policing structures in Scotland.”
Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service’s (HIFRS) Chief Fire Officer, Trevor Johnson said: “While this was not the preferred option of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (Scotland), I believe that that we must now look forward, with all stakeholders working together in a positive manner to deliver the Government’s preferred option.
“The decision today is only the beginning of the journey towards reform and it must be appreciated that there is much work to be done to ensure that the single national Service continues to meet the high standards of service delivery and community safety, currently delivered through the eight Fire & Rescue Services.
“A key focus for HIFRS is the continued development of our Service, ensuring the safety and security of our communities and our firefighters. In providing our future Service to the rural and often remote communities we protect, we must continue to build on the many successful initiatives borne out of our close working with partners in local Government and elsewhere, to drive down fire deaths and casualties, improve road safety, tackle broad based community health and wellbeing issues and support the business sector.”