Union concerns over single police force reform

Image caption Scottish Police Federation have concerns over time scale for appointments to new single police force

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has expressed concern about slow progress towards a single police force.

The union, which represents most Scottish police officers, wants the new force's chief constable to be appointed in the summer.

The Scottish government said it would happen by the end of the year at the latest.

SPF Chairman Brian Docherty said this could mean a lot of work currently being done could be wasted.

Mr Docherty said: "The appointment should be made in the summer.

"I can understand why Scottish ministers do not want to exert undue influence but it is surely possible for them to appoint an independent panel to manage the appointment process on this first occasion.

"Major change like this always causes massive upheaval and we should do what we can to avoid that as much as possible."

Developed proposals

A single forces for Scotland's police is due to begin operating on 1 April next year.

There are currently eight police forces - Central Scotland Police, Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Lothian and Borders Police, Northern Constabulary, Strathclyde Police and Tayside Police.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), Chief Constable Kevin Smith, said in February of this year that a lot needed to be done in the next 12 months to "make the change necessary to have the new structure in place".

First Minister Alex Salmond has said the new single services would "sustain and improve the delivery of local services", create a "national expertise" and ensure "clear separation from ministers" and "continued operational independence".

A Scottish government spokeswoman said well developed proposals for the new force would be in place before the chief constable is in post, which the government said would happen "as soon as possible".

She added: "Appointing a chief constable soon needs to be balanced with ensuring the process is as open and transparent as possible and getting the right person for this very important post so that everyone can have confidence in the leadership of the new service.

"We have responded to concerns previously raised by the federation and others that this should not be a political appointment by making clear in the Police and Fire Reform Bill that the Scottish Police Authority, not ministers, will appoint the chief constable. We expect this to happen by the end of the year at the latest."

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