A Moray councillor has hit out at plans for merging of police services saying that they will further reduce abilities to hold senior officers to account.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross was commenting as a member of the Moray Police and Fire and Rescue Committee when he criticised Police Scotland merger plans that would see the current Aberdeenshire and Moray division merged with Aberdeen City.
His comments follow a statement by Police Scotland that they were beginning a consultation period on the merger, saying that the force wished better targeted and cost-effective local policing.
Councillor Ross said: “When the SNP government first proposed the idea of a National Police Force for Scotland they said there would be more accountability and every council area in Scotland would have its own individual policing area.
“Then before Police Scotland had even began Moray was merged with Aberdeenshire and now less than two years after Police Scotland was formed we are having another merger.
“I really have to question how this is going to deliver more accountability over community policing.”
Mr Ross added that he had been aware for some time that talks may have been ongoing but was told these were kept confidential until after the referendum, as some felt “it could have an impact on the vote”.
He added: “If that were true it is an appalling indictment on the Scottish Government and senior members of Police Scotland.
“Indeed when Mary Scanlon, a Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands , questioned the former Justice Minister about any plans for mergers in August and October this year he would neither confirm or deny the plans.
“This only adds to the belief that this move has been planned for some time but the public have been kept in the dark.
“If this further merger goes through we will have a division the size of the former Grampian Police area and our ability to hold the force and senior officers to account will again be further reduced.
“Policing in Moray is vastly different to policing in the centre of Aberdeen and the model now being proposed for Police Scotland is vastly different to the one we were promised by the SNP government.
“I have no question about the commitment and dedication of our local officers on the beat but this move is a further example of Police Scotland and the Chief Constable deciding what is best for our area rather than listening to communities.
“This is a disappointing move by the force and one I hope other councillors in Moray will join me in objecting to when we get an opportunity to respond to the consultation.”