The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill was introduced before the Scottish parliament on 16 January 2012.

The purpose of the Bill is to create a single police and a single fire service. The new single services are predicted to save money compared to the current model. For more detail on that click here for a financial memorandum (found after explanatory notes).

The Single Police Service

Scotland's 8 police forces are to merge. Scottish Government explanatory notes state that this will create the second largest force in the UK behind the Metropolitan Police in London.

The key points are:

  • The current 8 forces and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency will be abolished and one new force called the Police Service for Scotland will be created.
  • The existing 8 police authorities and the Scottish Police Services Authority will also be abolished and a new Scottish Police Authority will be created ("SPA"). This is to provide governance and oversight of the new force and to hold the chief constable to account. It will also provide forensic services to the police and prosecution. The chief constable of the Service is responsible for the policing of Scotland, including the direction and control of constables and staff and allocation and deployment of resources received from the SPA.
  • Existing constables will be statutorily transferred to serve with the new force. This is not a TUPE transfer because they are not employees, but follows TUPE principles so that terms and conditions will not be changed.
  • The SPA will be funded directly by Ministers and will then delegate a budget to the chief constable.
  • Ministers may set strategic priorities for the SPA. The SPA must prepare a medium term strategic plan which sets out its objectives, how they are to be achieved and the outcomes by which achievement of the objectives can be measured. Shorter term annual plans must also be prepared by the SPA for each financial year describing how the SPA and the Service intend to carry out their functions. The SPA also has to prepare an annual report for Ministers. All of this is informed by a new set of statutory policing principles.
  • Local accountability is to be secured through local commanders. One is to be designated for each local authority area, but one local commander can be appointed to cover more than one area. They must involve the local authority in setting priorities and objectives for the policing of the relevant area and must submit a local police plan to the local authority for approval.
  • Police powers and functions are to remain largely unchanged, but core functions will be modernised.
  • The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland is being renamed and given expanded functions, in effect becoming an independent complaints handling body similar to the IPCC in England. It will investigate incidents involving death, serious injury and the discharge of firearms by the police. Where criminal proceedings arise from any of these, it will report directly to the PF. The body will now be known as the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

The Single Fire Service

Scotland's 8 fire and rescue services are to merge.

The key points are:

  • Fire services are being re-organised into a single new body to be known as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. There is no split between governance and operational bodies for fire because there is no need to secure arms length between governance and operational functions in the way that there is for police.
  • Powers to obtain assistance in carrying out fire and rescue service functions will be restated;
  • The Service will have statutory planning and reporting requirements including providing statistics, production of a strategic plan for the approval of the Scottish Ministers, and an annual report and accounts;
  • New arrangements for strengthening local engagement and partnership working including the establishment of local senior officers and development of local fire and rescue plans, along with powers for local authorities in relation to the provision of fire and rescue services in their area;
  • The post of Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Authorities will be abolished and replaced with a Chief Inspector, Inspectors and Assistant Inspectors (Inspectors of the SFRS).

Click here to view the Scottish Parliament page for the Bill.

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