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Chief constable of police service must have full control

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents has been a long-term advocate for the establishment of a Police Service of Scotland.

Our position was based on the potential savings that would arise from the removal of duplication and a more equitable service delivery across the country. It is fundamental to the success of the new service that the chief constable has control of all aspects of service delivery and can prioritise accordingly (Letters, November 12).

"Front line service delivery" does not merely extend to police officers and their deployment, it also includes essential services such as information technology, human resources and finance. It betrays a lack of understanding of the nature of policing to describe these elements as "support functions". Without the ability to direct and instruct in these areas, a chief constable will be unduly constrained and reliant on others to deliver a successful policing service for the people of Scotland.

Having been involved throughout the consultation period as the Police Service of Scotland was being established, I was unaware of any proposals to amend the traditional role of a police authority in Scotland. It is with an increasing sense of concern that our membership has learned of the proposed implementation of a plan to create a further costly body to oversee certain crucial elements of policing under the control of a chief executive. Whilst this may seem a sensible development to those who currently receive large salaries as managers of the Scottish Police Services Authority and whose positions in the new arrangements may seem to be at threat, one wonders what benefit this would bring? In our view this development merely clutters the landscape and detracts from the role of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), whose prime function should be to hold the chief constable to account.

An urgent review of these developments is surely required at a political level, as I am sure the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee did not envisage such a role for the SPA when it passed the founding legislation.

Superintendent Niven Rennie,

Chair, Strathclyde Branch,

Association of Scottish Police Superintendents,

Stewart Street.


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