Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott is in Aviemore today at the Scottish Police Federation Conference. He had always planned to be at this event to tell delegates of his instinctive opposition to Labour, SNP and Conservative plans to centralise policing services.
We know that Labour salivate at the prospect of one national force, with one Chief Constable answerable to the Justice Secretary, concentrating all the power for law enforcement from Annan to Lerwick, from Lochboisdale to Fraserburgh in the hands of two people. Who knows what the SNP plans are – they were planning on a single force, but their manifesto has a load of waffle where a policy might be and their current ideas, for 3 or 4 forces, are hidden away in their costings document. The Tories also back a single force.
The other parties were going to send their justice spokespeople to the Police Federation Conference, only changing their plans when they discovered Tavish was going.
He'll tell the Conference that:
“The shape of Scotland’s police forces affects their accountability, their capacity and their performance. “This is an issue of direct concern to every police officer in Scotland and every citizen who might ever rely on the great service that you provide. “So, as politicians, we owe it to you and to the country to be crystal clear where we stand on this. “The Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose the creation of a single Scottish police force. “The SNP, Labour and the Conservatives take a different view. “They argue not about whether to cut the number of our forces, but about who had the idea first. “But this idea is a rum deal for Scotland. “Our country is a diverse place with diverse needs. “We need police forces that understand the communities they serve – Lerwick is not the same as Glasgow. Stornoway is not the same as Aberdeen. Dumfries is not the same as Edinburgh. “These areas have local needs and patterns of crime that are unique to them. “Let me tell you, if you live in an island community like Shetland, the Northern Constabulary feels distant enough. “So we say no to a centralised one-size-fits-all national police force that serves politicians’ will rather than people’s needs. “Because that’s what we’re talking about here. “One single chief constable wouldn’t be out in the country, helping communities. “They would be in Edinburgh, standing on the other side of the First Minister’s desk, and taking their orders from the top down. “So we say no to one chief constable answerable to one First Minister – We say “no” to the direct injection of politics into policing.”