Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Scottish Parliament

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told the Justice Committee he accepted the evidence from the chief constable of the new police service that there was "no evidence" of police officers backfilling civilian staff jobs.

Last week the newly appointed chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland Chief Constable Stephen house told the committee he did not support any policy which was based on letting support staff go and putting police officers in in their places, as he gave evidence on the budget.

Mr MacAskill was giving evidence on the Scottish government's Draft Budget 2013-14 on 6 November 2012.

The justice secretary said, in answer to questioning from Labour MSP Jenny Marra on front line policing, : "I must not direct or interfere" with the police service or the new Scottish Police Authority and "I have to leave these matters to them, but I accept the word of Stephen House" that there was no evidence to believe backfilling was taking place.

Ms Marra then asked for a guarantee no police stations would close, to which the justice secretary replied "no minister can guarantee that" and said again that would be a matter for the new chief constable and the Scottish Police Authority.

The committee then focussed on the Scottish Courts Service's consultation on regarding court closures.

A total of £955m has been stripped from the local government budget to be transferred centrally for the single Scottish police force, and £275m will also be taken from councils to fund the unified Scottish fire service.

The committee began by taking evidence on the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (Relevant Premises) Regulations 2012 [draft] from Mr MacAskill, which it unanimously approved.

Justice Committee membership

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