Monday 17 September 2012

On the benefits of unification the SNP.

So, according to the Riaghaltas na h-Alba, we can look forward to a new, unified national Police Service of Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as of the 1st of April next year.

Curious about the justifications given for the unification of these services, Union Jock decided to peruse the Scottish Government's Police Reform Programme Outline Business Case, published in September 2011. Cutting to the chase (Chapter 8: Identifying the Preferred Option), the main benefit proposed is, of course, cost saving, due to the obvious economies of scale: an estimated annual recurring cash saving of £106 million, they claim.

But there are non-monetary benefits as well. According to the business case, these are as follows:

Retaining separate forces would perpetuate the existing inequalities of provision across Scotland. Compared to an alternative option of a small number of regional authorities, the unified option would remove unnecessary duplication and ensure consistency across Scotland, given the autonomy the regional bodies would have in developing their own delivery models. The regional option would also require the most complex, lengthy and potentially risky transformation programme. So a single service model presents the best opportunity to drive out duplication, ensure consistency, and rationalise existing systems and structures as far as possible. Efficiencies would be realised through economies of scale; expertise, capability and budgets could be pooled at a national level then targeted to local need. Stopping the duplication of support services and deploying specialist resources flexibly across all of Scotland in line with need, would protect the services people care about most and lead to a safer Scotland. Anything short of full unification would involve a series of compromises and sub-optimal arrangements which would cumulatively undermine the economic and organisational case.

So, in short, the SNP administration say that maintaining separate fiefdoms is bad because it wastes money, leads to inefficiencies and inequalities and prevents the pooling of resources. Only by unification can a service to the public be provided effectively. In addition, complex, lengthy and risky transformation programmes are best avoided.

Fancy that.

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