Unitary Scottish fire and police service plans approved
06 July 2012
Scottish parliamentarians have voted in favour of legislation that will see the creation of single Scottish police and fire services. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill underwent its final debate yesterday and was approved by the Scottish government with 101 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions.
The eight fire and police areas in Scotland will be unified into unitary forces covering the whole country
The plans to form unified police and fire services will save around £1.7bn over the next fifteen years.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill admits that the unification is borne out of cost cutting but he is determined to make “a virtue out of necessity.”
The forces are expected to merge in April next year but critics have described this deadline as a “frantic rush” with Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald saying “the jury is out on whether the target date of 1 April 2013 can really be delivered.”
Last month, research reported by STV detailed that the number of fires in Scotland has dropped by 20 per cent over the last five years.
The trade union UNISON said that the centralisation of Scotland’s police and fire services was driven entirely by cost savings that will not deliver for Scotland. George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s police staff committee, said: “The Government’s plan to maintain an artificial target of police officers, within the budget cuts, will result in the loss of up to 3,000 police staff roles."