CONCERNS have been raised over policing in East Dunbartonshire with the birth of a new unified police force for the whole of the country.
Strathclyde Police – and the local police board that held it to account – were replaced last month by Police Scotland.
Depute East Dunbartonshire Council leader Ashay Ghai (pictured) fears it will have “real ramifications” for local policing.
The issue was discussed at a recent full council meeting as members approved a local policing plan.
Councillor Ghai said: “This is the biggest change in our police in a generation, yet as officers don their new uniforms there are still too many unanswered questions.
“The Government has rushed towards a simplistic reform of our police despite overwhelming opposition.
“Reforms have seen a loss of backroom staff with little evidence of financial savings.”
Councillor Ghai added: “East Dunbartonshire Council has already stated that a business case for these reforms has not been proven, with little evidence to suggest that a single national police force will save money.
“These flawed reforms will only erode local accountability and community decision-making, with powers transferred to the Scottish Government.”
Council leader Rhondda Geekie added: “I share Councillor Ghai’s concerns, especially about the savings a single police force is supposed to make.
“Locally I have been encouraged by the partnership working which we have signed up to deliver. I know if there is any dilution of service we will be raising that with the minister, as will other leaders.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There is no doubt that the new policing landscape and arrangements offer more local scrutiny of police services than ever before.
“Previously only two members from East Dunbartonshire Council sat on Strathclyde Police Authority, now every councillor in East Dunbartonshire has the opportunity to shape local policing activity in their local authority area.”
Police Scotland insist the public will have seen “very little change”, but all communities now have access to specialist police teams.
A spokesperson added: “Each of the 14 divisions across Scotland has a dedicated local police commander who is responsible for ensuring that local priorities are the focus of what they do – day in, day out.
“Each of the 32 local authorities has its own policing plan and we will regularly report on these plans so people can hold us to account.”
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