N Ireland’s experience ‘positive’ on single force

A SINGLE Scottish police force has been backed by a senior officer from Northern Ireland, which also has a national service.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay, formerly of Strathclyde Police, said there had been no calls to return to regional forces.

He said yesterday that the police force had continued to be accountable to communities.

Mr Finlay said: “Policing public order is contentious [in Northern Ireland] and people are able to hold us to account for how we do that.

“Style of policing, amount of force used – people do hold us to account on that.”

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However, MSPs were also warned that a similar shake-up in Denmark led to a drop in public confidence.

Holyrood’s justice committee heard that trust was undermined in the Danish force during three years of reforms.

Alison McInnes, Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman, said research in Denmark showed satisfaction with local policing fell dramatically, while confidence dropped by 14 per cent over three years of reforms.

Professor Nick Fyfe, director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research, told the committee his organisation looked at experiences across Europe.

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He added: “As a result of the mergers of police forces that happened in Denmark, the level of knowledge that officers had about local neighbourhoods decreased quite dramatically.

“That began to undermine trust and confidence, and so on.”

In Finland, the perception at a senior level was positive, but there was a “significant decrease” in morale at junior levels, Prof Fyfe added.