A new two-tier police system should be considered in Scotland to improve local accountability, according to the Conservatives.
The idea has been put forward in response to the public uproar over failure of the Scottish Police Authority to hold the chief constable to account over armed police on the streets and stop-and-search.
Tory enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser has proposed a model in which serious crime would be dealt with by a national force and community crimes handled by 32 local authority forces accountable to their council.
In a speech to the annual conference of the local authority group Cosla he said the current system under Police Scotland was “failing”.
Mr Fraser said the national policing review proposed by his party would look at improving accountability but acknowledged there might be little appetite of turning back the clock to the old regional police boards.
“We think this proposed system could work very well in Scotland, like it has in other European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain,” he said.
“Already local councils employ community wardens to deal with local crime, and there’s no reason in principle why the administration of community police forces cannot also fall under the same local authority umbrella.
“Of course, this is just an idea, and it may not need to go this far. It might be possible to recreate proper local accountability within a single police force.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The introduction of Police Scotland has strengthened accountability and local policing. Scotland already has a designated local commander in place in every area of the country, with local policing plans in place in all 353 council wards.
“These local policing plans are developed in partnership with local communities and their elected members who play a vital role in deciding policing priorities based on local needs.
“Strong local accountability is also already in place through local scrutiny committees who are active across the country and we welcome the 150% increase in the number of elected members engaged in holding local policing to account.”