The Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council has expressed concerns about the impact of the closure of the Police control room in Dumfries.
The Vice Chair of the Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue Committee and Mid & Upper Nithsdale Councillor John Syme expressed concerns after his own experiences of using the Police non-emergency number 101. Last Friday (6 June 2014) a constituent asked Councillor Syme to phone the police so they could report an incident. When Councillor Syme spoke to an operator in the Govan control room, which has replaced the Dumfries control room, they had no idea where Kelloholm or Kirkconnel was and only figured it once Councillor Syme explained they were in Dumfries and Galloway.
On first experience of using the police operator since the closure of local police control room, Councillor Syme said:
“The operator had no idea where I was talking about when I mentioned Kirkconnel, Kelloholm or Sanquhar. When I requested to be put through to my local police station, I was told it was not possible. In the end, I had to spell out each place to the operator and it was only after I explained that they are both in Dumfries and Galloway did they find where the area was. I am deeply worried that if this had been an emergency situation, there would have been the serious delays. In an emergency situation, time is of the essence and people do not have time to go into geographical detail. I have also been told about an incident where someone tried to report a road traffic accident but the operator had no idea where they were talking about and eventually they were put through from Govan to police officers who are now based in the old Dumfries control room”.
“For me it is further proof as to why Police Scotland was so wrong to close the local control room. Local knowledge is important when it comes to directing our emergency services. However because Police Scotland and the SNP Government are obsessed with centralisation, this did not come into their thinking and it will be local people that suffer the consequences.”