TODAY marks the beginning of the biggest milestone in policing in Scotland for a generation when the Police Service Of Scotland goes live.

This historic event sees the eight existing forces and the Scottish Crime And Drug Enforcement Agency and Scottish Police Services Authority come together to become a single service known day-to-day as Police Scotland.

It is clear the country needs a police service that best meets the needs of its communities, particularly the most vulnerable and in need of protection.

Criminals do not recognise lines on a map and neither should the police.

Stripping away these artificial boundaries will make the police in Scotland stronger. Resources can be targeted to areas that need them and expertise and best practice will be shared.

The single service will ensure equal access to national expert teams, including major investigation squads and firearms officers, whenever and wherever they are needed.

Keeping people safe and responding to the needs of communities is at the very heart of the new service.

Across the old Strathclyde Police force area, officers will be more flexibly and accurately deployed to areas where they are needed.

There will be a more significant shift in how policing is delivered, which will make response there more streamlined.

This work will be taken forward by Chief Superintendent Andy Bates in Greater Glasgow, Chief Superintendent John Thomson in Ayrshire, Chief Superintendent Nelson Telfer in Lanarkshire, Chief Superintendent Russell Dunn in West Dunbartonshire and Chief Superintendent Alan Spiers in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Today, on Day 1, the transition should be smooth and seamless and the public are unlikely to see a significant shift, but in the background officers are primed and ready to take the first steps into a new era in policing.

If there is a serious crime or a major incident throughout the course of today, or any time after that, then you can be assured Police Scotland is prepared and fully equipped to deal with it.

There are some crimes that are a particular scourge on Scotland as a whole and may not necessarily be restricted to one area.

I know Chief Constable Stephen House, who will lead the new service, has plans to tackle areas such as alcohol and violent crime, domestic abuse and rape on a national level whilst balancing local needs.

Alcohol related violent crime costs the Scottish economy millions of pounds a year, and the disastrous consequences of drunken brutality can have a lasting effect on victims.

Similarly, domestic abuse and rape are crimes that leave emotional scars long after the bruises have faded.

Policing in Strathclyde, and across Scotland, is excellent. I know Police Scotland is in an excellent position to safeguard all communities hold dear about their local policing, and continue this good work while offering all the benefits of a single service.

Communities in Scotland should feel safer than ever before since there is no doubt there has never been a more sophisticated policing model in Scotland.