Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Labour party business: Policing

Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald called for clarity on who would be in charge of Scotland's new single police force during a Labour led debate on policing on 5 December 2012.

In Mr MacDonald's motion he noted the view of the Scottish government that "the Chief Constable has direction and control of the Police Service of Scotland and is responsible for its day to day administration".

During his speech, the Scottish Labour's Justice spokesman said he regretted the first minister's description of the dispute between the Chief Constable and the Chair of the Scottish Police Authority over responsibility for the delivery of Scotland's new single police force as "creative tension".

Mr Macdonald called on the Scottish government to ensure a resolution to the "jousting for control" and wanted a commitment this would be done "before Christmas".

He demanded the SNP justice secretary guarantee there would be no back-filling of staff posts by police officers or contracting out of staff posts to the private sector to meet the budget cuts planned over the next three years.

The Labour MSP said: "We are holding this debate so the cabinet secretary can put his own views on the record and tell us whether this has now been resolved and if not, what is he going to do about it.

"It is about the security and confidence of employment for police staff, they need to know that budget cuts will not be delivered at their expense".

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill addressed concerns over reductions in staffing, telling MSPs there were now 17,454 police officers, an increase of 1,220 since 2007.

Mr MacAskill did warn that backroom support staff would reduce as the single force became operational but he said "the Armageddon scenario set out by Labour" was "just not happening".

On the issue of who has control over policing, Mr MacAskill said the new Chief Constable Stephen House and the chair of the new police watchdog Vic Emery had thrashed out who was responsible for what and he added the only "outstanding issues" were over the siting of HR and finance functions.

He described the ongoing discussions as "fruitful and progressive" and asked Labour to have "more faith in two men of outstanding calibre".

Concerns over the dispute over governance of the new single police force was echoed by the Tory benches, with John Lamont MSP claiming the very fact there seemed to be disagreement about who was really in charge of policing proved "the government's legislation had fallen short" of its purpose.

Scotland's new single police force and single fire service will be operational from 1st April 2013.

The Scottish government claim this "radical reform" will protect frontline services and will make savings of £106 million each year.

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