Officers of fair trading?

“THERE is no evidence that a single police force would benefit the people of East Renfrewshire”.

That’s the opinion of Douglas Yates, ERC’s representative with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

The councillor has called on people to write to their MSPs to let their concerns be heard by the justice department.

The Scottish government defended the possibility of a single police force.

A spokesman said: “The budget cuts from Westminster mean that we must change the way we do things precisely in order to protect community policing.

“The projected long-term savings under a new structure are up to £154m a year, every year”.

However, COSLA argue the cost of the switch would be £230 million, the equivalent of 7,600 officers for “nothing more than a centralising power grab”.

Councillor Yates said: “Crime has consistently lowered in East Renfrewshire. Meanwhile, force mergers in the last 30 years have not led to greater efficiency.

“If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it”.

Giffnock-based West of Scotland MSP Stewart Maxwell believes “the current arrangements on policing are no longer an option”.

“The savings could prove vital in ensuring the continued progress of the fight against crime, which has seen the Scottish government reduce crime rates to a 32-year low.

“We should wait to hear the conclusion of the consultation, but any actions to preserve the future of Scottish policing in the face of massive budgetary pressures should be welcomed”.

Fellow MSP Jackson Carlaw commented “if we are to maintain the existing structures councillor Yates must tell us how on earth it will be funded and what front line policing he is prepared to see cut”.

The Conservative continued: “If we are to protect resources on the front line and maintain the compliment of police officer then it makes sense to consolidate our police forces”.

Eastwood MSP Ken McIntosh echoed the statement of his colleagues at Holyrood.

He said: “The need for reform is driven by savings and if we were to save on eight senior management teams, that’s a big saving to be had.

“There is a precedent for police forces that size in England. The key matter is that police respond to the community and I don’t feel a national force would be any less responsive.

East Renfrewshire’s area commander Alan Murray said he is “very much aware of the ongoing debate”.

He told The Extra: “No matter what happens it is my job to protect the people of East Renfrewshire and the local commander will continue to have accountability”.