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Letters Single force won’t change public face

Letter of the week Kevin Smith President, Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Moving to a single police force for Scotland is the most significant change to the service in its history. As the leaders of the service, it is our responsibility and indeed our duty, along with the Scottish Government, to make this work for the people of Scotland and the men and women of the Scottish Police Service. We are at the beginning of the next stage in the reform process. As president of ACPOS, I will lead the transition to a single service with the support

of fellow Chief Constables, the Scottish Government and police authorities. Our priority, as it has always been, is to deliver the best quality policing for the people of Scotland. Policing has adapted and

improved over the last generation; we haven’t simply stood still. Reform will provide us with the opportunity to continue that improvement and ensure we have a modern, highly adaptive service

The third way

Constitution Ben Thomson Chairman, Reform Scotland

Te Scottish Government has indicated that the referendum on independence is likely to offer three choices to the Scottish electorate; independence, the status quo and some middle option. We believe ‘Devolution Plus’, which Reform Scotland published last week, is the first major attempt since the election to set out exactly what this third option could look like. At present, Holyrood is

responsible for almost 60 per cent of all public expenditure in Scotland, yet it is responsible for raising only 6.4 per cent of funding. Reform Scotland’s proposals recommend a structure that will shift the responsibility for raising revenue to create a much more even balance between Holyrood and Westminster which gives both governments an

incentive to act more responsibly within their respective areas of power. Te result is that this proposal completely removes the need for the block grant as each level of government has their own powers to fund their respective Scottish expenditure. In addition, we have

recommended a significant shift in responsibility for elements of welfare from Westminster to Holyrood. Many policy areas associated with alleviating poverty, such as social inclusion and housing, are already devolved. Terefore, we believe that by giving the Scottish Parliament responsibility for a number of major welfare benefits a more coherent and effective approach can be adopted. We believe that Devolution Plus

provides a solution within the current constitutional framework creating real incentives for both politicians at Holyrood and Westminster to focus on economic growth and improved public services.

which will continue to deliver an excellent service now and into the future because this reform must last for generations. Policing will remain locally focused with strong community relationships and partnerships with local authorities, but we have the opportunity to further enhance our capacity for modern threats, such as serious organised crime, counter terrorism, complex investigations and cyber crime. We will be ambitious in our

move towards a new service but we will also be realistic, recognising the scale and complexity of this huge task and also the period of significant financial constraint that we are in.

I am absolutely convinced that reform will not fundamentally

change the policing that the vast majority of the public see day-to- day but it will change how we are organised which means a time of uncertainty for all our people who actually deliver policing. We fully appreciate that they will want to know how this announcement will affect them but the exact detail of how the service will be structured is still to be decided. I am, however, committed to ensuring that all of our people have an opportunity to engage and contribute to help shape the service of the future. Tis is the most significant change to the Scottish Policing Service in its history but rest assured, we have the interests of our communities and our people at heart and we will succeed in this.

Use legislation

Alcohol Dr Evelyn Gillan Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland

Licensing laws and practice have been steadily relaxed over the past 30 years with more licences issued to a wider range of premises and for longer opening hours. Tis greater availability has been associated with a substantial rise in alcohol consumption and harm. Over the past two decades, Scotland has had one of the fastest growing liver cirrhosis death rates in the world. Compared to other licensed or otherwise regulated products, alcohol stands out in being highly visible, accessible and aggressively promoted.

Scotland is unique in having a licensing system which is based on protecting and improving public health. But we need to make sure that this principle is put into practice.

Licensing boards must make

more effective use of licensing legislation to control the overall effect of licensed premises on drinking behaviour and levels of alcohol harm in communities, not just the operation of individual ‘problem’ premises. Boards should publish detailed information about the number, type and capacity of licensed premises in their area, and be required to provide annual information on the volume of alcohol sold by drink type as a condition of their licence. Licensing fees should be applied based on volume of alcohol sold. Off-sales hours should be

reduced to 10am until 8pm and separate alcohol-only checkouts should be introduced in supermarkets. Te Scottish Government must take further action to regulate the sale of alcohol in off-sales and return licensing to its fundamental purpose of controlling the availability of alcohol to prevent harm.

Letters to the Editor with the writer’s contact details, should be emailed to or faxed to 0131 272 2116. Maximum of 300 words, please.

78 19 September 2011

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