Fife’s top police officer has said the closure of the town’s Napier Road station is not yet a “fait accompli” but in his mind he feels it’s “the right thing to do”.
Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan was called to brief members of Glenrothes Area Committee following last week’s revelation by the Gazette that the local force are to relocate to the former Fife headquarters building at Detroit Road, forcing the closure of the long-standing Napier Road facility.
Chief Superintendent McEwan said that with the annual operating costs of £200,000 per year and an estimated £1 million maintenance cost needed to upgrade the Napier Road site over the next four years, resources could be put to better use elsewhere.
But he was quick to reassure the public that the move would not mean a reduction in service or police capacity across the town.
“Officers would start and end at Detroit Road but otherwise their day would remain unchanged as they continue to police across the communities as they do already,” he said.
He added that he would double the number of officers to two stationed within the Kingdom Shopping Centre and would create a contact desk for the public who wanted to retain traditional contact with officers.
It’s understood that a ‘holding facility’ existing within the centre but not used could also be developed at a later stage.
Chief Superintendent McEwan told councillors that the existing custody suite at Napier Road “was not really fit for purpose” and plans to utilise the central Fife facility in Kirkcaldy to also cover Glenrothes, as well as develop a new custody suite in Methil to serve east Fife, would represent the best use of police buildings across the region.
Councillors called for better signage and a viable bus link to be provided for those wanting to access the Detroit Road facility.
The force carried out a a survey in 2014 to see how the public used the Napier Road police station.
Over a two-week period just four members of the public called into the police station to use the facility for ‘minor’ police matters such as to report lost property.
During the evenings of the same two-week period, seven people attended the police station during evening hours.
Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan said : “My experience tells me the majority of the public now contact the police via the 101 non-emergency number, on mobile phones or by contacting us on various forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Those types of statistics are unsustainable and we have to explore ways of being more efficient.”