Audit Scotland backs Lib Dem view on police merger

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has highlighted Audit Scotland’s highly critical report on lessons to be learned from the merger of public sector bodies as further evidence that the SNP’s police and fire centralisation plans are flawed.

The report concludes the mergers suffer from “late leadership appointments”, savings were based on “broad assumptions”, plans to implement mergers were “too short term” and resulted in “reductions in staff numbers.”

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

“This report confirms SNP plans to merge Scotland’s police and fire service into one super structure are flawed.

“Any assurances that Kenny MacAskill gives about his police and fire power grab will ring hollow following the findings of Audit Scotland.

“It is clear that estimates on savings stemming from the centralisation of our police and fire services are merely figures, not facts.

“This ‘stick your finger in the air’ approach to the costs of the single police force has characterised Kenny MacAskill’s approach throughout the process.

“Audit Scotland also point out that projected savings are not revised as mergers proceed. This is true of the police reform as the £15million saving that is attributable to structural change is wiped out by the VAT bill that Kenny MacAskill failed to plan for.

“The merger of our eight police forces into one structure, controlled by the Justice Secretary and run from the central belt will do away with the local accountability that our police service prides itself on.

“The SNP should go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that avoids the pitfalls identified in this report.”