‘An opportunity that we cannot dismiss lightly’

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this newspaper has not always seen eye to eye with Scotland’s Justice Minister, and Edinburgh East and Musselburgh MSP, Kenny MacAskill.

We were, for instance, steadfastly against his decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet Al-Megrahi. But when it comes to his controversial plans for a single Scottish police force we believe that he is right.

Like Mr MacAskill, we have listened carefully to those who claim that merging the country’s eight existing constabularies will inevitably damage local policing.

We do not think there is anything inevitable about it. Scotland is not a big country. There is no clear reason why our police cannot operate successfully with one person in overall charge and a series of local divisional commanders.

Substantial savings are there to be be made, by getting rid of all the current duplication of backroom functions, such as human resources, payroll, and so on. That is an opportunity we cannot dismiss lightly, if we are to make the most of future budgets, and keep more bobbies on the beat.

Getting the structure of the new set up right is the key to making it work. The job of the new chief will be to provide a lead to his divisional commanders, largely working with politicians and creating policy. That means he must be based in the Capital, close to the seat of power, in order to do his job most effectively.

Beneath him, the divisional commanders will take charge of local operations, they must be free to take day-to-day decisions – and remain accountable to the communities they serve.

Candid camera

while Spider-Man tackled wrong-doers in New York and Gotham City had Batman, Edinburgh has never had a mysterious hero to watch over and protect us all.

But could all that be about to change with the arrival of the cycle cam crusader?

The anonymous cyclist has taken to recording the foolhardy actions of other road users and posting them on the internet.

But this is no cyclist with a bee in his helmet about road-hog motorists – he is equally content to highlight the stupidity of pedestrians and cyclists.

If everyone he records watches his YouTube films of themselves in action, then they would surely learn their lesson. And we could all sleep better in our beds at night, knowing life in the Capital was just a little safer.