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Police and fire reform

28/02/2011

Scottish Ministers' work tp 'build a consensus' on the future of Scotland's fire and rescue and police services continued today as Fergus Ewing travelled to Shetland to engage directly with the local community on potential reforms.

The Community Safety Minister visited police and fire stations in Lerwick, and met with local officers and fire fighters as he stressed that reform of the two services could help them build on the excellent work they already do protecting their local community.

He also met with the convener of Shetland Isles Council and held a conference call with his counterpart in Orkney Islands Council to discuss the options for reform set out in consultations on police and fire services launched earlier this month by the Scottish Government.

During the exchanges, Mr Ewing reiterated that the reforms presented an chance to strengthen community accountability of services by devolving power to local commanders.

He also stressed that any move to regional or single forces offered an opportunity to distribute national expertise around the country, insisting that any new structures to emerge from this process could see management functions and specialist operations spread out across the whole of Scotland.

Mr Ewing said:

"The Highlands and Islands are extremely fortunate to be served by excellent police and fire and rescue services, and I am delighted to be here in Shetland today to see first hand the work they do every day keeping the people of these islands safe.

"I know how much value communities place on these services, and I am here to find out how the reforms we have set out in our consultations can strengthen local accountability and engagement and further improve police and fire services

"I am now undertaking a tour of the country to listen to concerns and inform people about the opportunities that this process offers every community in Scotland.

"The Scottish Government has already delivered an additional 85 police officers in communities across Northern Constabulary, demonstrating our commitment to local emergency services in all parts of Scotland.

"This consultation and reform process gives us a chance to strengthen that commitment yet further."

Mr Ewing is carrying out an extensive schedule of reform consultation events across Scotland and will travel tomorrow (Tuesday) to the Western Isles to meet with fire and police partners and the leader of the local authority.