Police Scotland confirms closure of dozens of public counters

police jacket
Image caption A number of station front desks are to close following a review of services

Police Scotland have confirmed that dozens of police station front counters are to close from 3 March.

Only a handful of more that 60 stations marked to shut public counters or cut hours have been given a reprieve.

The controversial plans were put to consultation in October. The public can still request a meeting with an officer on the 101 non-emergency number.

Confirmation of the move comes a week after approval to cut the number of police and fire control rooms.

The opening times of public counters at police stations across Scotland now fall into five categories and the list of affected stations remains largely the same as one proposed in the original consultation.

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: "Local policing remains the bedrock of the new service.

"The benefits of a single service are already being felt right across the country - with national specialist resource now meaning our local community team resource is further strengthened and supported.

"We have listened to all the views put forward and made changes to reflect this but an effective, modern policing service must evolve to reflect the communities we serve."

As a result of the closures members of the public will still be able to meet with police officers at stations with no public counter provision but will have to call 101 first.

The amendments to the orignal proposals are:

  • Stromness: Was to have had no service. Now to open 9-12.30, Monday-Friday
  • Banchory: Was to have opened Monday-Friday 9-5; now seven days a week 8-6
  • Dumbarton: Was to have opened Monday-Friday 9-5; now seven days a week 8-6
  • South Queensferry: Was to have had no service. Now to open 9-7, Monday to Friday
  • Linlithgow: Was to have had no service. Now to open 9-7, Monday to Friday
  • Tranent: Was to have had no service. Now to open 9-7, Monday to Friday
  • Haddington: Was to have opened seven days a week 8-6; now, after community representations along with people from Tranent, will open Monday-Friday 9-5
  • Mallaig: Was to have opened 9-12.30 Monday to Friday; now 9-5 Monday-Friday

'Bitter blow'

The reforms have been widely criticised by all of the main opposition political parties in Scotland.

Scottish Labour's Graeme Pearson said: "This announcement will be a bitter blow for the 61 communities which will now no longer have easy, face-to-face contact with their local police officers.

"I'm pleased that through our campaigning and the campaigning of many others, we've managed to save at least some from total closure."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats echoed Labour's concerns and said the news confirmed the party's "worst fears".

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: "It is deeply disappointing that around 60 frontline police stations across Scotland are to close their doors to the public.

"In the space of less than one year [Justice Secretary] Kenny MacAskill has taken a wrecking ball to local justice."

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont branded the consultation process a "PR exercise" to prepare the public for the level of the cuts.

"As everyone suspected, the consultation exercise was merely Police Scotland going through the motions," he said. "No matter what anyone said, these service counters were closing."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The review of public counters was undertaken by Police Scotland which was established following wide Scottish Parliament support for the new single service.

"After listening and taking account of public opinion, consultation responses and staff, police are increasing services at Stromness, Banchory, Dumbarton, South Queensferry and Linlithgow.

"Under the review, 71% of counters will remain open to the public with some increasing their hours."

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