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Public consultation announced on future of police and fire services

12 January 2011

Scots are being invited to give their views on the reform of the country’s police and fire services.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced today that a consultation on specific options for change will begin next month.

He told the Scottish Parliament a consultation will be launched to discuss three reform options for both services:

  • eight separate boards with enhanced collaboration
  • a regional structure with fewer boards
  • and a single service.

The Justice Secretary said the Scottish Government wanted to move to a single fire service and he set out the arguments for the single force, and regional force options for police, with the objective of achieving a consensus on the way forward for both services.

He said that the current structure of fire and police in Scotland was not tenable and must be changed to ensure that local services in all of Scotland's communities are maintained in the face of the impending financial challenges imposed by Westminster.

"On police," he added, "a strong case has been made for a single service, but concerns need to be allayed over accountability.

"There is an argument for a regional model, but significant challenges have to be overcome regarding efficiency.

"In a country where we pride ourselves in policing by consent, we hope this consultation provides an opportunity to reach a consensus."

The separate consultations on fire and police reform will run at the same time and their conclusions will be submitted to the Christie Commission to help inform the wider work being done to reform the public sector in Scotland.

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