Q&A: Scotland's new police service - Police Scotland

Police pass out at Tulliallan

The Police Service of Scotland - which will be known as Police Scotland - will begin its beat in two weeks.

On 1 April, the new 17,000-strong single national force will replace the current eight-force structure and become the second largest force in the UK, after the Metropolitan Police in London.

One of the new force's specialist units is already up and running.

The Specialist Crime Division (SCD), which includes 1,800 detectives, has taken responsibility for investigating major crimes.

How will the new force look?

Gone are the current eight force areas that have existed since 1975 and in comes a unified police force for the whole of the country.

Stephen House, formerly chief constable of Scotland's biggest force, Strathclyde Police, is the man in charge.

Police Scotland, as it will be branded, will have 14 local divisions, each headed by a chief superintendent.

Five of the current force areas - Dumfries & Galloway Police, Fife Constabulary, Central Scotland Police, Tayside Police and Northern Constabulary - will now become divisions.

The current Grampian area will be served by two divisions: Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire & Moray.

Lothian and Borders will see two divisions: Edinburgh and Lothians & Scottish Borders.

And Strathclyde Police will be split into five divisions: Greater Glasgow; Ayrshire; Lanarkshire; Argyll & West Dunbartonshire; and Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Will people notice any difference?

The word from Police Scotland is that, on local policing, members of the public should notice least difference.

If you call to report an incident and police are required to attend, they will turn up as they do at the moment.

Local police commanders will be in charge of the local policing plan.

This will be made for each one of the 373 local authority wards across Scotland.

These local plans will, however, reflect national priorities on public protection, including initiatives on domestic violence and sexual crimes.

They will be drawn up in consultation with local bodies such as health boards and offender management organisations.

Where will Police Scotland headquarters be?

The command headquarters, for the time being at least, will be at Randolphfield in Stirling, which is the current HQ of Central Scotland Police.

A group of 14 senior staff, including Chief Constable Stephen House, will operate from the third floor of the building from day one.

A total of 45 people working with the chief constable at Tulliallan in Fife will eventually move to Stirling.

It is intended that Tulliallan, which is about 13 miles from Stirling, will continue to be used as the corporate Police Scotland HQ, with some offices and conference facilities retained for use by the chief constable and deputy chief constables.

How many staff will work for Police Scotland?

At the end of December 2012, there were 17,436 police officers in Scotland.

There are approximately 6,500 civilian workers in the Scottish police service.

That number will reduce, although the Scottish government policy of no compulsory redundancies has been accepted by both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), which holds the police force to account.

Attempts will be made to reduce the civilian workforce through voluntary redundancies and natural wastage.

They are also trying to reduce non-staffing costs.

On his appointment, the new chief constable suggested up to 3,000 civilian jobs could be shed. He now says it will be somewhere between zero and 3,000.

Civilian police workers have expressed concern that their role in reducing crime has not been recognised.

What is the Specialist Crime Division?

"The Specialist Crime Division epitomises the way policing will be delivered by the single service - nationally managed but locally delivered," says Stephen House.

SCD will have about 1,800 officers dealing with major crimes such as murders, rapes, drugs offences and human trafficking.

It takes over the functions of the existing, but smaller, Serious Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

Murders will be investigated by three teams in the east, west or north of Scotland.

Other major crimes, such as rape, attempted murder and serious assault, will be investigated by officers in each of the new 14 divisions across Scotland.

Are there other specialist units?

The Specialist Crime Division operates The National Human Trafficking Unit and the Border Policing Command.

For the first time, all ports of entry into Scotland - whether air or sea ports - will be under a single police command.

This, it is claimed, will enhance the security of the travelling public and also enable better targeting of people traffickers and organised crime groups.

There is also the National Trunk Roads Unit.

Policing on major roads will be carried out by the unit that will more effectively be able to police across current force boundaries - up the M74, across the M8, up the A9.

Any other changes?

Police Scotland will be pushing 101 calls.

This new service provides a single number for the public to contact police if they don't need an emergency response.

Callers will be automatically routed to their nearest police office - even if they are on the move - to enable them to report crimes such as property damage or pass on information like suspected drug use.

It is hoped it will take pressure off the 999 system.

What is the Scottish Police Authority?

It has been set up to hold the chief constable to account for the policing of Scotland.

It will replace the regional boards that exist in each of the current eight force areas and which took their representation from local councillors.

In a recent Scottish Parliament debate, MSPs raised concerns that control of policing had been taken out of the hands of locally elected members and transferred to a board appointed by the Scottish ministers.

The new chairman of the police authority board, businessman Vic Emery, has said he hopes the SPA will dig much deeper into decisions being made by the new force.

He says the SPA will ensure there is "scrutiny, testing and approval" of police plans and it will not be simply "a rubber stamp".

Earlier this year, Mr Emery had a public disagreement with the chief constable over who controlled finance and personnel ­issues.

Will the new service have a logo?

A new logo was unveiled by Police Scotland on 9 January. However, it was withdrawn the next month after objections from Lord Lyon, Scotland's top heraldic authority.

The service says costs have been minimal and, while there will be no branding on 1 April, there is already a "debranding" exercise under way.

For example, Northern Constabulary and Central Scotland Police have taken the geographical indications from their uniforms, so it merely reads Police.

Most cars have for some time merely been branded Police without any indication of force.

Who will be in charge of the new divisions?

There are currently eight chief constables, nine deputy chief constables (DCCs) and 13 assistant chief constables (ACCs) across Scotland.

The new service will have one chief constable, four DCCs and six ACCs.

Three of the assistant chief constables will be responsible for local policing and three for specialist units.

Each of the local ACCs will earn between £90,726 and £105,849 a year, subject to experience, and will cover a region of the country - east, west and north.

The chief superintendents will cover 14 areas across the country.

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