Police Scotland has this week announced its final proposals to change the provision of public counter services in stations across the country.
Across the Lothians Parliamentary region, seven police stations will lose their public counter service along with the facility at the Police Information Centre on the Royal Mile.
Meanwhile, four stations will have the hours of their public counter service cut in Edinburgh’s West End, Howdenhall, Portobello and Bathgate.
Two of the stations losing their counter, at Corstorphine and Craigmillar, will be moved to a shared service location at substantially reduced hours. All of these changes will come into force early next month.
In November, following widespread anger at the proposals, two stations earmarked for closure – at South Queensferry and Linlithgow – were given a reprieve and will remain open at their present hours. Despite this small victory, I am concerned that the proposals as a whole represent a scaling back of local access to community policing.
While members of the public will be able to continue accessing the stations that are losing their public counter, they will have to call ahead to make sure a police officer is able to meet them. Public counters have traditionally been staffed by trained police staff but I am concerned that these proposals will see officers removed from other duties to fill this role.
In the case of Corstorphine and Craigmillar, I continue to have concerns regarding how the shared service facility will operate.
Following the announcement of the proposals in October, I wrote to a number of community councils affected by the changes and sought further information from local police stations. These views helped form my response to the Police consultation.
I used that opportunity to highlight my concerns about local accountability and the way in which this consultation has been handled. You can read more detail of my concerns in this previous blog post.
Unfortunately these proposals have now been agreed but I will be continuing to call for greater emphasis to be placed on community policing in the Lothians.