Police and Fire Services Review

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

8. To ask the Scottish Executive whether its review of police and fire services will include an analysis of the impact of any restructuring on civilian police staff numbers. (S3O-13252)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Yes. The work of civilian support staff is one of the core functions against which the sustainable policing project, which is being led by Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson, is assessing the three reform options on which we are consulting. That work will be reported to the Scottish policing board on 21 March and published on the Scottish Government website by 22 March to help inform the debate on the future of policing in Scotland before our consultation closes on 5 May.

Photo of Alison McInnes Alison McInnes Liberal Democrat

Should not the cabinet secretary have fully evaluated the impact of his reforms in advance of the consultation, so that the public were properly informed of the real impact on staffing numbers? What is his response to the fact that the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland is in no doubt that the Government’s savings figure could be achieved only through the loss of thousands of officers and support staff? Does the cabinet secretary believe that ACPOS is scaremongering?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Yes. Those figures are disputed. What is clear, though, is that the consultation is on-going and that information has been provided to the police family.

As has been pointed out, the status quo is not tenable, because we would end up in the same position as south of the border—which is due to the Liberal Democrats—where 28,000 front-line staff are threatened with redundancy and police officers’ terms and conditions and pay are threatened with being varied and reduced.

Indeed, I remember being in this chamber for a debate on forensic services, when we took steps as a Government to ensure that we protected front-line services in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and were criticised by Ms McInnes. The position of the Liberal Democrats south of the border has not been to preserve those services; it has been to privatise them.

Photo of Bill Wilson Bill Wilson Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Can you provide clarification, even at a later date, as to why I cannot ask the Government for its views of and position on WikiLeaks?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

It is because questions must be within the general responsibility of the minister to whom they are posed, Mr Wilson