Earlier this week, Police Scotland published proposals that would see the closure of dozens of public counters in police stations across the country.
The proposals would see seven police stations close their doors to the public in the Lothian region. In addition, the public counter at the Police Information Centre in the middle of Edinburgh could also close. At those stations which retain a public counter, many would have cuts to opening hours under the proposals.
I am deeply concerned that the proposals will leave communities isolated from a local police presence. Many people prefer to report matters to the police in person rather than over the phone or online and turn to their local station at times of vulnerability.
People in communities such as South Queensferry, Balerno or Oxgangs who are not close to other police stations would be denied this option, placing a barrier between them and local police. There is no explanation from Police Scotland about how this would be overcome if the proposals were implemented.
These proposals are not about improving policing, they are about saving money. Last month Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, the President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents spoke of the police reaching a financial tipping point and said that the Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, was being hamstrung by Government policies.
These proposals will not result in one extra police officer being out on the beat but will see police support staff working on public counters losing their jobs. They will add to the 1,200 support staff that have already been cut.
I will be raising the issue of community policing with ministers this week as I am also concerned that the community focus is being lost.
I welcome the Edinburgh Evening News ‘Save Our Stations’ campaign which is opposing the closure proposals. You can add your support here.