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News - 7 September 2011
Scottish government announces radical police reforms
The Holyrood government has announced its legislative programme for police reform. It includes a national amalgamation of forces in a move which could be seen as a model for reform south of the border. It is also to establish a minimum price for alcohol.
Alex Salmond, Scottland's First Minister, has outlined his government's plans to create a single police force and a single fire service, a move which he claims will save money without detracting from frontline services.
Says Salmond: "Communities don't care about boundaries, they want services to work together as effectively and efficiently as possible. After detailed consideration of all the evidence available, we are persuaded that a single police service and a single fire and rescue service are the right options.
The proposed changes would see Scotland's eight police forces and eight fire services merged into national bodies. In terms of policing, this would create the second largest force in the UK behind the Metropolitan Police in London. According to Salmond the single services would "sustain and improve the delivery of local services", create a "national expertise" in both and ensure "clear separation from ministers" and their "continued operational independence".
The First Minister, now head of a majority government, also vowed to tackle Scotland's historic drink-related problems by bringing back the proposals to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol, which were defeated in the last parliament. The legislation, he said, would "tackle the scourge of alcoholism on Scottish society and families".
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