Unified police force will not have HQ in the Capital

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JUSTICE Secretary Kenny MacAskill has ruled out Edinburgh as the headquarters of the new all-Scotland police force.

He said the single force would not be based in either the Capital or Glasgow and indicated his preference for locating the new HQ in the police college at Tulliallan, near Alloa.

Lothian and Borders police board convener Iain Whyte said: “I would be greatly disappointed if we didn’t have the police headquarters in the city.

“Edinburgh City Police were the first formal local government-sponsored police force and that model of a local and accountable modern police force was pioneered in the city.

“That tradition goes back over 200 years and it would be a very sad day if the force HQ was not here in Edinburgh.”

He said, however, he expected the current Lothian and Borders force headquarters at Fettes might be needed as one of three or four regional HQs across Scotland.

Mr MacAskill said admin functions for the new force, such as finance or human resources, would not necessarily have to be centralised in a single location.

The Justice Secretary revealed more details of the Scottish Government’s plan to replace the existing eight forces with a single Scottish police service, saying the chief constable would be appointed by a new Scottish Police Authority and local commanders would be held to account by police boards set up in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Each commander would produce a local policing plan which had to be agreed with the police board.

But Councillor Whyte said: “What I would want to know is, what are the levers of power any local police committee would have if things were not going their way? At the moment, the police board appoints the chief constable and sets his budget, which are significant aspects of the power balance.

“There is obviously still a lot to be worked out, but whether these local policing committees are meaningful will depend on what power they are given and the ability they have to hold local commanders to account.”

Mr MacAskill said a time-scale for the creation of the single force had not been set but the earliest date would be April 2013. He told MSPs the move to single police and fire services would save £130 million a year and £1.7 billion over 15 years.

And he pledged there would be no political interference in operational matters.

He also quoted figures from the last police reorganisation in the 1970s to insist cutting the number of forces did not mean fewer officers.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com

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