Apr 13 2011 By Ben Spencer
OFFICERS from Strathclyde Police have come out against plans to create a single national force.
The country's rank and file cops will get a chance to air their views on the proposal at the Scottish Police Federation's annual conference in Aviemore next week.
A motion will be put forward at the event asking officers to oppose any moves to merge Scotland's eight police forces.
Delegates will get to vote on the motion, which has been proposed by the SPF's most powerful branch, Strathclyde.
It states: "This motion seeks to oppose any move towards a national police force in Scotland.
"One police force in Scotland will lose local autonomy, shall centralise power and will give any government the political control of its chief constable."
Strathclyde Police chief constable Stephen House has previously backed the plan for a national force.
However, speaking on Tuesday, SPF general secretary Calum Steele expressed doubts about such a move.
He said: "As a manifesto proposal, its understandable why the pledge is considered attractive.
"Although unconvinced by the reality, only politicians will know if it is truly affordable and deliverable in practice."
Force reform is top of the agenda at the three-day conference, with the leaders from the four main political parties taking part in a debate on Tuesday.
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have pledged to merge Scotland's eight forces into one.
The Lib Dems oppose the plan.
A Scottish Government consultation on police reform, launched in February and due to end in May, sets out options such as a regional structure with fewer boards or a single police force.
At the time of the consultation launch, justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said a "strong case" exists for a single force but the SNP have not yet stated their policy position.
SPF chairman Les Gray said: "Force structure will play a prominent part in this year's conference and will be debated at length.
"We will hear from various speakers on this, including politicians from our four main political parties.
"This is our chance to air our views and to hear from our politicians on how they propose to take the Scottish police service forward in these difficult times, whilst protecting the excellent service that we currently provide to the people of Scotland."
John Lamont, Conservative justice spokesman, said: "There is a growing consensus that the current structure for our police is unsustainable and that fewer police forces are inevitable.
"The key to any reform is not just financial efficiency, it is retaining local connections and accountability local community policing for local communities."