In a speech to the SNP conference in Perth, Mr Salmond said he would put "bobbies before boundaries". He did not indicate the scale of the reduction, but The Scotsman understands ministers are looking at cutting Scotland's eight police forces to three or four.Normally I'm all in favour of cutting public expenditure. And I mean cutting, not just slowing down the rate of increase as proposed by the UK government.
But, ignoring the very good libertarian case for anarcho-capitalism, the only justification for the state is to protect us against aggressors. That means limiting the state to providing the military (to protect us from foreign aggressors), the police (to protect us from domestic aggressors), and a court system to judge those accused and order appropriate restitution.
It's clear that the British police no longer see their role as one of protecting the citizen. Rather, they have become the paramilitary wing of the Guardian newspaper. (*)
I am not at all comfortable with the creation of larger and larger police forces that would inevitably become more remote from the people they are meant to serve. I suspect that we would be better off with a greater number of localised forces. Proper co-ordination would be essential of course. As would directly-elected Chief Constables. If this turned out to cost a bit more than the current arrangements the necessary cash would be available after the first few hours of real libertarian cuts...
(*) I coined this excellent phrase some years ago. I would now add "and the BBC".