Local Labour politicians have slammed Police Scotland for launching another attack on local policing as Police Scotland confirmed the closure of local police services desks as well as a change to operating hours for a number of desks throughout the region.
Police Scotland had originally proposed these changes in October last year with a final decision postponed until a public consultation was held. The report released on Friday (7 February) confirmed that the public counter desks in Kirkcudbright and Dalbeattie are to close, while the service desks in Annan and Castle Douglas will see a change to its operating hours. The proposed closure of the service desk in Newton Stewart will not be going ahead although it will see its operating severely reduced hours. The changes will come into force on 3 March 2014
Commenting on the changes, Elaine Murray MSP, Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, said: “This is yet another example of the way in which Police Scotland are embarking on an unrelenting attack on local policing. To local people, it is starting to feel as if Police Scotland will not stop until there is the minimum police presence in our region. It is all part of the wider agenda of the SNP Government towards the centralisation of services”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “On its own this decision will mean a poorer service for local people, but taken together with the closure of local courts and police and fire control rooms, it is a part of a major deterioration of service within Dumfries and Galloway. We are getting these cuts made on a drip, drip basis and Police Scotland do not seem to have a plan for the future of policing in Scotland. I am sure police will deny it just now, but as the cuts get deeper and deeper over the next couple of years I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it is only a matter of time before Police stations are closed, whether that is the current Police Headquarters at Cornwall Mount where the civilian staffing levels are being cut all the time or some of rural Police stations. You can see the argument Police Scotland will make already. If there is no public counter, they will simply say there is no need for a station”.
Leader of the Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said: “I don’t think anyone will be surprised by this decision. We know from their moves to scrap traffic wardens, close the control room in Dumfries and now remove the Police Counters, that Police Scotland only pay lip service to consulting. As a council we are currently looking at how we can make our own services more viable through integration and having a one stop shop for libraries and customer service centres. We would have been happy to enter into discussions with the Police to see if we could work with them in some of the communities they are removing services from but sadly Police Scotland at a national level aren’t interested in working with local councils”.