Police and Fire Reform Act under the spotlight


On the fifth anniversary of Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s establishment, Holyrood’s Justice Committee is calling for views on the legislation that brought them into being.

The Committee will scrutinise the Police and Fire Reform Act, one of the most significant pieces of legislation since devolution, which sits behind the Scotland-wide organisations. It will look to see if there are parts which could be improved, as well as looking at areas where it is working well.

The Committee is planning to engage with the organisations created by the Act, as well as those who closely interact with them.

In particular, it is interested in whether the original aims of the Act, namely protecting and improving services, equalising access to specialist support and strengthening connections between services and communities, have been met.

Speaking as the inquiry launched, Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:

“The last five years have been a period of unprecedented change in our fire and police services. While undoubtedly there are examples of resilience and partnership working, there have also been some problem areas identified since the mergers.

“In particular, the Committee is keen to establish whether the issues faced by the services are to be expected as ‘teething problems’ or whether legislative changes are needed after five years.”


The original policy objective of the Act was to create a single police service and a single fire and rescue service, to deliver the policy aims set out below:

  • To protect and improve local services despite financial cuts, by stopping duplication of support services eight times over and not cutting front line services;
  • To create more equal access to specialist support and national capacity – like murder investigation teams, firearms teams or flood rescue – where and when they are needed; and,
  • To strengthen the connection between services and communities, by creating a new formal relationship with each of the 32 local authorities, involving many more local councillors and better integrating with community planning partnerships.

Organisations created by the 2012 Act, and covered by the Committee’s Post Legislative scrutiny of it, include:

  • Police Scotland
  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • The Scottish Police Authority
  • The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.

The call for evidence can be found below and runs until 24 May.

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