Vic Emery: New police force offers best value

New recruits at Tulliallan Police College. Picture: Ian Rutherford
New recruits at Tulliallan Police College. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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TODAY Scotland will wake up to a new police service – the most fundamental change in nearly 40 years.

And with it comes a new way of maintaining and supporting the police and holding them to account for the money spent.

Our objectives, which we share with the police, are strengthening Scotland’s reputation as a safe and successful country through policing major events like the Commonwealth Games, and building on the public’s trust by listening to local communities.

We must demonstrate best value and, above all, tackle crime and show there is no hiding place for those who threaten or harm our society.

For the man and woman in the street, you will not notice any immediate difference today.

But that will change in time.

You should have more say on local priorities and be better able to question, and judge, how well the police are performing.

You should be able to see how the money invested in policing is being used and what results it brings.

And you should be able to understand how policing decisions are made and why.

This is what better accountability and scrutiny will bring.

Asking more of the right questions of policing, with the right information, at the right time.

Not only will that take place nationally but also at local authority and we hope at individual ward level.

These arrangements provide an opportunity for more locally elected representatives in every council area to scrutinise local policing.

Of course we know that money will be tight.

But that won’t compromise our commitment to a quality service.

We are after the best policing possible for the money available. We can do more with less.

DNA results are faster today than they were six years ago but we now spend £2 million a year less on forensics than we did then.

That came from genuine reform, not just a merger.

Reform of policing must change how we do things, not simply reduce the number of people doing things the same way they have always been done.

• Vic Emery is chairman of the Scottish Police Authority