THE chief constable of Scotland's new single police force has predicted that consolidation is inevitable south of the border as the new structure began life today.

Police Scotland became fully operational as the eight former forces ceased to exist, and Chief Constable Stephen House has described the 43 forces in England and Wales as unsustainable.

Mr House said the new divisional structure in Scotland will maintain local accountability after the rationalisation.

He argued strongly that eight forces of greatly varying size was not the right model for Scotland and he believes the same is true in England and Wales.

He said: "My personal view is that structural change is inevitable down south."

Local policing plans for each of Scotland's 32 local authorities and 353 council wards will be published today so local communities can identify the issues that matter most to them, with anti-social behaviour and road safety at the top of the agenda.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick, who will lead local policing, said: "Local communities have told us their key concerns and we have listened.

"By listening to the concerns of our local communities, we can ensure their priorities are reflected in our annual policing plan. This allows the public to hold us to account for how well we tackle these issues."

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill added: "Local policing will continue to be the bedrock of the new service. Local policing teams will work with communities to address the issues that really matter to them."

Concerns that it will take time for the separate computer systems of the eight forces to be merged have been played down by Police Scotland.

A spokesman said: "The notion that the systems as set up means that we cannot track people does not represent the full picture. Much work has been done under the previous legacy forces regarding sharing intelligence and the Scottish Intelligence Database helps with this."

It is claimed that monitoring of serious sex offenders will be one of the issues that will improve from today.

Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: "In order for the new police force to enjoy the confidence of the people it serves, it has to move quickly to overcome these teething problems, put the games aside and ensure that the local presence that people want in their communities will not be compromised by this new structure."