Community policing will be at the core of the single force's thinking, the officer who will take charge of territorial policing has said.

The Deputy Chief Constable of the new Police Service of Scotland, Rose Fitzpatrick, previously a deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, is touring the force areas outwith the central belt.

Last year an internal survey of Northern Constabulary, which covers the Highlands and Islands but not Argyll, found 86.6% of the respondents were against a single force which comes into being on April 1. However, speaking during her visit to the force's Inverness headquarters, Ms Fitzpatrick said the experience of policing in the more peripheral areas would help shape the new force.

"Over the coming days and weeks I will be travelling around forces speaking to officers and staff who deliver in communities, day in, day out. I want to identify the good practice that takes place throughout Scotland to help shape the service we deliver in the future," she said. "This week I will have spent time in the Highlands, Ayrshire and Dunbartonshire, as well as the North-East meeting the people that will drive forward policing at local level in the single service.

"Community policing which is responsive to the needs and concerns of the public is at the core of Police Scotland. One of the key aims of the single service is to become more connected to our communities."

The Chief Constable of Northern Constabulary, George Graham, said. "This is an excellent opportunity for DCC Fitzpatrick to get a glimpse of the vastness of this geographical area and the unique policing challenges we face."