EVERY council should have a representative on the body which oversees Police Scotland and contribute half the cash to pay for the force, a leading think tank has claimed.

Calling for a partial return to how policing was governed prior to the creation of the single force and claiming "he who pays the piper calls the tune", Reform Scotland has said both were needed to re-inject localism into policing.

The right-of-centre think tank has made the calls its submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on re-shaping the force's priorities for the years ahead.

Launched last month, ministers said the Draft Strategic Police Priorities for Scotland consultation was to help understand and reflect the needs of local communities in the planning and delivery of policing.

In a briefing paper based on its submission to the Government, Reform Scotland said that while it welcomed an emphasis on localism and accountability it had concerns about how that could be implemented under current structures.

The report states that with the SNP's manifesto containing a commitment to reviewing the structure of local government, council reforms were need to be made ahead of reforming police governance, adding: "The horse must be put before the cart. This should be the priority, and then we can look at how councils with potentially new boundaries interact with other public services."

Reform Scotland's Research Director Alison Payne said: "The creation of Police Scotland was a mistake, and in the absence of any further wholesale reform we all have a responsibility to make the smaller changes which can help re-create local policing.

"For that reason, we have proposed that both the funding and governance structure must change. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and on that principle we believe that local authorities should again be responsible for funding 50 per cent of policing, with the Scottish Government continuing to fund the other 50 per cent.

"Furthermore, we believe that each local authority should be able to nominate a member of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to ensure that local priorities are adequately represented.

"The creation of Police Scotland was a mistake, and in the absence of any further wholesale reform we all have a responsibility to make the smaller changes which can help re-create local policing."

The force currently operates 'local authority police scrutiny committees' which have a role in bringing together local elected representatives and police commanders to set objectives, develop local police plans and ensure that local police services deliver.

Following the creation of the single force ministers simply removed the cash councils received for policing and paid it directly to Police Scotland.

Describing the SPA as "basically a quango with members appointed by government (which) blurs transparency and accountability, it said nominations should be split between councils and ministers.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: "Officers, civilian staff and communities alike have been left counting the cost of these botched reforms.

"The SNP were warned time and again that centralising the police would damage local policing but they did not listen.

"There is an urgent need to put democracy back into policing and boosting the role of councils in shaping local policing plans would be a sensible step in the right direction."

The Government's consultation closes on August 16th. Launching it, justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “We need a service which carries the shared values of all of our public sector, which works at an international level to combat the threats of modern times, that brings national consistency, co-ordination and specialist resource and holds local policing at its heart. It must be focused on priorities which are relevant to, and serve the interests of, local people.”