Changes threaten basics of local policing

When the public first got wind of the concept of Scotland having a single police force, there were genuine concerns that the basics of local policing would be undermined.

Despite assurances to the contrary we now find, just as many of us predicted, that Chief Constable Stephen House is having to take steps to reduce community-led initiatives, as a direct consequence of having fewer police officers at his disposal.

The reduction in the number of safety advisers available through Police Scotland is a perfect example of what the future might look like, due directly to political interference.

While the cutbacks will have no foreseeable impact on crime figures, they will impact on the quality of relationship school staff and pupils have enjoyed with the police.

Over the years this has become a meaningful partnership in which students grew to trust and understand the value of our police force.

Should we lose the Safe Drive and Stay Alive campaigns I fear it will be the thin edge of the wedge, leading to the community losing not only regular contact with the service, but other precious services provided in the past.

Will it mean for example a withdrawal of officers from community council meetings, not being able to give talks to a range of community groups as has been the case over the years.

I certainly hope not, though I fear the worst, and said so at the time of the formation of a singe force. Both the First Minister and the Justice Minister were warned of the implications, but to nobody’s surprise appeared to take no heed of the warnings.

Scottish communities have over the years enjoyed good relationships with the police, putting this precious aspect of community at risk is not terribly clever, but then I have never been able to equate politicians with cleverness.

But if you think our politicians have taken leave of the wee bit sense they have, look over the border and see just what the world of football is up to.

Here we are in the middle of a recession, and Premier clubs are splashing out cash like it was going out of fashion, while paying mega salaries of which you and I can only dream.

If Gareth Bale is worth £300,000 a week, then there is something seriously wrong with our sense of values. The Welshman has joined Real Madrid as part of a vanity project for the club, though English clubs are no better, including Spurs who have spent all the ill-gotten income on seven replacements. Interestingly none of the signings are English, which tells you all you need to know about the so-called top league in world soccer.