Watch: The day they let Willie Rennie fly a plane

That should strike fear into the heart of anyone who has ever driven with Willie! Or maybe it’s just that I’m ultra cautious on the road.

Today, Willie went on a training flight with the UK Civil Air Patrol, who provided air support to Tayside Police prior to the SNP’s disastrous merger of Scotland’s Police forces.

The point of his visit was to outline what he would do to restore accountability to the Police service. The party would not do another top down re-organisation, but would ensure that local councils had control of the policing plan in their area to ensure that it meets their needs. Since the merger, it’s been very much a roll-out of what used to happen in Strathclyde across the country. That resulted in armed police being used for routine duties in places like Inverness, much against the views of the local community. After the intervention of the Liberal Democrats, this was stopped.

It also resulted in the destruction of a system for sex workers that worked well in Edinburgh.

After his flight, Willie said:

The UK Civil Air Patrol provided Tayside Police with invaluable support from the air. For no obvious reason, the new national force dispensed with their services despite the opposition of many from within Perthshire and further afield.

If there were compelling operational reasons for this change then they were not explained to councillors or anyone else. We have seen this approach again and again under Police Scotland. Local needs have been ignored in favour of national targets and diktat as a direct consequence of the SNP’s reforms.

Morale in the force has plummeted as a result of repeated controversies, with reports of widespread use of officers doing jobs they weren’t trained for due to to civilian cuts. We will increase resources to protect frontline police jobs and scrap the top down target culture.

We want to see police officers and staff given the freedom to do their jobs but where we have controversial policies like the deployment of armed officers on routine duties, local people must have their say. In the Highlands, Police Scotland pressed on with the use of armed officers despite vocal objections from local people. That needs to change.

We will put democracy back into policing by giving councils a veto on local policing plans. This change is not about tying the hands of senior officers. It is about fixing the mess created by the SNP, protecting the principle of policing by consent and ensuring that policing reflects local needs.

UPDATE: There’s even video:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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