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Keeping Scotland Safe and Strong: A Consultation on Reforming Police and Fire and Rescue Services in Scotland




2.1.This section sets out the framework for a single police service which would deliver policing to all of Scotland's communities. It would be led by a Chief Constable and be overseen by a new Scottish Police Authority. Government is responsible for providing this framework but most of the detailed managerial and operational delivery of the new police service within that framework will be for the Scottish Police Authority and Chief Constable to determine. Some decisions will need to be taken during the planning phase to ensure that the new service, and its work with other partners, is operationally effective from day one.

2.2.We will bring forward legislation which will bring existing police forces, support services and national specialist delivery agencies within a single service structure. These proposals will reduce complexity and duplication and deliver a more streamlined service which prioritises the retention of police officers in communities over the maintenance of an outdated and inefficient structure.

Current arrangements

2.3.The existing structure of policing in Scotland dates from 1975 when regional councils were established. There are eight forces, varying very significantly in terms of population, area covered, levels of crime and resources available. These forces are broken down into 27 police divisions which, again, vary very significantly in size and are led by officers from the rank of Chief Inspector to Chief Superintendent.

2.4.In addition to the eight forces, national statutory bodies provide national policing services. The Scottish Police Services Authority ( SPSA), a non departmental public body, became operational on 1 April 2007 and provides forces with a range of services including forensic science, ICT support, police information and intelligence systems and national training. It is also responsible for maintaining the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency ( SCDEA), whose primary function is the prevention and detection of serious organised crime across Scotland, including complex fraud, e-crime, drug and people trafficking and counterfeiting. Other national and regional services, such as the Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Unit ( CTIU) are provided as collaborative agreements between the forces and there are a range of formal and informal agreements between forces for support when required.

2.5.There are a wide range of partnerships which the police lead or are actively involved in. Some of these, such as the Strategic Coordinating Groups, which bring together partners to prepare for and respond to emergencies, and Safety Camera Partnerships, which aim to reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads, are aligned with the eight force structure. Others, such as Community Safety Partnerships, Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and Adult Protection Committees, are mainly aligned with Council and community planning structures. The police are also required to work with organisations such as Community Justice Authorities, which cover more than one Council area to, for example, ensure the effective management of sex offenders.

2.6.The following diagram sets out the principal governance and delivery structures at present.

principal governance and delivery structures at present.

Scottish Government proposals

2.7.The Scottish Government proposes that the existing eight forces, SPSA and SCDEA should be brought together as a single police service governed by a single Scottish Police Authority and led by a Chief Constable. This service would also encompass the national activities currently undertaken through collaborative agreements, and the Safety Camera Partnerships. It would be for the new service to determine, with relevant partners, how work currently undertaken through collaborative agreements and how partnership working on safety cameras would be delivered.

2.8.The police service will continue to play a major role in the work of Strategic Coordinating Groups ( SCGs) - which bring together responders (including the police, fire and rescue, health and local government) to plan for, and respond to, emergencies in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. Reform of the police and fire and rescue services creates the opportunity to consider the current structure of SCGs (which is based on the existing 8 force boundaries) in order to determine whether those boundaries will continue to support the most effective regional emergency planning and response arrangements. We will consult separately with SCGs, SCG member organisations, and other stakeholders on this issue, as the proposals on police and fire reform are developed in more detail. Changes to the coverage of SCGs can be made by order under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, should they be considered necessary.

2.9.In order to adhere to best practice and maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system, the structure will reflect the need for a few police support functions to be independent from the Chief Constable in terms of their operation and accountability. This includes forensic services and the management of related information on the Scottish DNA Database and fingerprint database. In Scotland we currently have a 'crime scene to court' Forensic Service which has, since 2007, been part of the Scottish Police Services Authority and independent from police forces. It is proposed that services such as this will, in future, report to and be directly accountable to the Scottish Police Authority, not the Chief Constable of the Scottish police service. It will be important for the membership of the Scottish Police Authority to include individuals who have the credentials to provide effective oversight of these services and we expect external scrutiny bodies will also ensure these services are provided to the highest standards and are independent of the Chief Constable.

2.10. We would welcome views on these proposals, including whether there are any other partnership arrangements, collaboration agreements, or corporate issues which will need to be taken account of as we reform the structure of the police service in Scotland.

Question 3: What are your views on our proposals for integrating existing bodies into a single service or on how and when partnership arrangements should adapt to align with this new structure?

2.11. The following diagram sets out the principal governance and delivery structures under a single service.

principal governance and delivery structures under a single service.