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Milne urges protection of frontline policing in Grampian

Nanette Milne, 20/01/2011

Milne urges protection of frontline policing in Grampian

Nanette Milne, Conservative MSP for the North East has called for greater local accountability and protecting front line policing to be at the heart of any reorganisation of police structure.

Nanette Milne, Conservative MSP for the North East said:

“The Scottish Conservatives can be proud of our record in supporting the police. There are 1000 extra police officers in Scotland today thanks to our budget negotiations with the Scottish Government. If Labour had remained in office, there would not have been one extra police officer on the beat. As for the Liberal Democrats, they voted against the introduction of our extra crime fighters.

“Over the next few years we want to see a major reform which will help provide what the public wants and needs: a visible, local police presence.

“The current structure of policing in Scotland is bureaucratic and costly. It is also very often unresponsive to the needs of local communities, particularly in the more rural and remote parts of our country. To the general public, Police Boards have become weak, invisible and unaccountable.

“We should have a system of policing which involves local residents, listens to their views and engage their help in the fight against crime.

“We therefore propose to introduce directly elected local police commissioners. These directly elected commissioners would serve on a new National Police Commission overseeing the national police force. Whilst the Chief Constable would remain operationally independent, the Commissioners would hold the local police to account and nationally provide strategic direction as well as provide a check against the national body being politicised by the government of the day.

“Although independent of the local councils, the elected Police Commissioners would work alongside their local authority, NHS and education bodies and voluntary groups to ensure effective partnership working. Critically, the local Commissioner will be responsible for setting the local area’s annual target crime reduction rate.

“Commissioners should share terms of office with councillors and be elected at local elections.

“To accommodate greater public involvement in our policing, we will need to reform the structure of our police forces. Further, at a time when public finances are under extreme pressure, it is appropriate that we look to cut duplication and unnecessary costs across Scotland’s police forces to ensure that we keep police officers on the beat in our local communities and not behind desks. The current structure is not sustainable but we will consult with others before deciding on the precise structure most appropriate for our policing needs in the 21st century.”

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