Paying the price of a single force

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House,  Police Scotland appears before the Justice Sub Committee on Policing to give evidence on stop and search numbers carried out by Police Scotland. 19 February 2015  Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, Police Scotland appears before the Justice Sub Committee on Policing to give evidence on stop and search numbers carried out by Police Scotland. 19 February 2015 Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

It is hard to believe that summer (if you can call it that)is already behind us and that the Scottish Parliament returns again this week and Westminster, next.

As you would expect the last few months have been as busy as ever for me but I have managed to find a little bit of time to recharge my batteries following the General Election.

As my mother has always been found of saying “a change is as good as a rest” and it has certainly been a welcome break to have a bit more time to get out and about in our communities and enjoy a number of the local events and celebrations that make our towns and villages so unique.

It has also been a good opportunity, alongside my local advice surgeries, to catch up with people and keep up to date with local concerns.

Understandably, one issue has dominated the last few weeks and I have noted the growing concern locally over the future of Police Scotland. Events, including the M9 tragedy and the departure of Chief Constable Stephen House have added to the belief that centralisation has damaged the effectiveness of local policing across Scotland.

I have therefore given my backing to my Conservative colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, who are calling for a thorough review of existing arrangements locally with the hope of restoring local accountability.

I know that in the meantime local policemen and women are working harder than ever to maintain local services and I want to thank them for all their hard work. I have to say, it is so often these efforts which confirm my believe that local justice is best delivered and administered locally. It is also why I had reservations about the creation of a single national police force and the effects that it would have on policing in rural areas and on our local communities. I always questioned how Police Scotland could make the kind of savings that were being talked about without making significant cut backs in local services, and now sadly we have seen the answer.

Worryingly in Peeblesshire, this effect has been felt even more pronounced when combined with the closure of Peebles Sheriff Court. Common sense and local knowledge always suggested this decision would put a strain on legal services and justice and the empty court building in the town already serves as a monument to the Scottish Government’s failure to listen to local people.

In contrast, I am always keen to hear your views on this and any other matter, and constituents can contact me though my office or by email at david@davidmundell.com