A Justice Committee report on Scottish fire and police reforms has called for the appointment of a chief constable and chief fire officer to leadoversee the new combined national service as soon as possible.

Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said: "Our role in scrutinising this Bill is to make sure that the new national police and fire & rescue forces can actually deliver the services effectively throughout Scotland. The overwhelming majority of the committee believe they can.

"However, what came over loud and clear from the vast majority of witnesses from the services was the need to appoint a chief constable and fire officer as soon as possible.  Day 1 of the new national service is the 1st of April next year and an appointment date of December 2012 will not give enough time for the new heads to prepare for it."

All but one of the committee agreed with the general principles of the Bill with MSP Alison McInnes the only exception because of the lose of local accountability for Blue Light Services.

Other recommendations made by the Committee included:
* Scottish Government should pursue with HM Treasury all possibilities to resolve the issue of VAT recover

* Scottish Government to clarify the impact of civilian redundancies

* Local government should have key role for local government in the new structure, but Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board shouldn't be bodies of local representation.

* Strong case for the Bill securing Parliamentary oversight.

Posted 03/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com