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Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform




Governance Board

Research Advisory Group




The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 was an ambitious programme of reform of policing and fire services in Scotland. The size, scale and cost of the reform has generated a substantial level of interest, both within Scotland and internationally. The Scottish Government has commissioned a four year programme of evaluation of reform which is being carried out by a consortium of research organisations led by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) working with Scotcen Social Research and What Works Scotland.

The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act was passed in summer 2012 bringing a major programme of reform to both services in Scotland with the creation of single police and fire services.  The new services became operational on 1 April 2013.


The three aims of reform were identified in the policy memorandum accompanying the act and are to:


1.         Protect and improve local services despite financial cuts, by stopping duplication of support services eight times over and not cutting front line services.

2.         Create more equal access to specialist support and national capacity like murder capacity teams, firearms teams and flood rescue where and when they are needed

3.         Strengthen the connection between the services and the communities they serve by providing an opportunity for more local councillors to be involved in shaping local services and for better integration with community planning.


The key aim of the evaluation is to evaluate if the three policy aims listed above have been met.

Secondary objectives are to:

  • Learn the lessons from the implementation of reform to inform future large public service reform processes

  • Evaluate the wider impact of the reform on the Justice and public service system.




The evaluation is being conducted by a consortium of research organisations led by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) working with Scotcen Social Research and What Works Scotland. The evaluation will take place over a period of four years from January 2015 – January 2019. Table 1 summarises the programme of work that the consortium will undertake over this period.


Table 1: Summary of work packages



Work package


WP 1: Evidence Review


To review other sources and to extract relevant evidence and data that the evaluation can use and build on, to identify evidence gaps and avoid duplication.


WP 2: National key informant interviews

(Years 1 and 3)


Interviews with key informants to gain insights into ‘how’ and ‘why’  the aims of reform have (or have not) been met.  These interviews will also address the objectives of learning the lessons from the implementation of reform to inform future public service reform processes and the wider impact of police and fire reform on the justice and public service system. 


These interviews will be carried out twice over the course of the evaluation (first in Year 1 and then again in Year 3) in order to capture the dynamic nature of the reform process.


WP 3: Four geographical and two thematic case studies of the implementation, operation and experience of reform involving qualitative interviews with key actors.

(Years 1 and 2 with follow up in years 3 and 4)


Six case studies will provide the opportunity to analyse how national changes are playing out at the local level and the extent to which different contexts play a part in facilitating (or hindering) the objectives of reform.  The selection of case studies will be informed by emerging findings from WP1 and through discussion with the Research Advisory Group.

WP 4: Validation Events and International Comparative Workshop

(Year 4)

In advance of preparing the final report, a series of validation seminars, bringing together representatives of key stakeholder groups will be held to discuss the emerging findings. 


Drawing on SIPR’s European network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers, an International Comparative Workshop will provide an opportunity to compare experience of reform with other countries that have been on a similar journey.  


WP 5: Outputs and dissemination


Annual reports, annual presentation of findings to the Governance Board and final evaluation report - these outputs will aim to distil the key findings, explain their significance and identify the implications for key stakeholders.




Annual reports will be published each year. The first is due to be published in summer 2016.


4.Governance Board


The Governance Board provides senior level strategic support and direction to the evaluation. The Board is chaired by the Director of Safer Communities, Scottish Government and includes senior representatives from Police Scotland,  Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Police Authority, HMICS, HMFSI and a Non-Executive Director.


5.Research Advisory Group


The Research Advisory Group provides support and technical advice to the project. Current membership includes representatives from Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Police Authority, HMICS, HMFSI, Scottish Government and the Improvement Service.





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