13 Jun 2012
The Scottish Conservatives have raised concern over the future of mountain rescue teams in Scotland under a new single police force.
The service is currently assisted by three police forces across Scotland as well as the RAF, but there are fears such close working would be lost once a single organisation is established.
Last year, 573 people were saved or assisted by mountain rescue teams, taking up the time of 23,500 hours.
Yesterday, the SNP refused to accept a Scottish Conservative motion to introduce more local accountability once the single force is established.
Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith said:
“New structures to police and fire services will have considerable implications for the mountain rescue teams.
“There is already close co-operation between the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS).
“But the officers of both are wary of some of the implications of the new structure and what this will mean for the best delivery of local services.
“Scotland needs very careful strategic planning involving all sections of the emergency services at the decision-making stages, and I urge the Justice Minister to give a cast iron guarantee that this will happen as soon as possible.
“There is a very genuine desire to maintain and enhance the volunteer nature of mountain rescue teams and that needs to be thought through in the context of public sector reform and the required financial savings.
“Mountain rescue teams give their time selflessly to assist others, frequently in difficult mountain terrain or in dangerous waters, in treacherous weather conditions and often at night.
“They do so at a time when relatively small amount of public money they receive is under considerable pressure.”