Glenrothes police station looks set to close permanently in April, the Gazette can reveal.
It’s understood the existing police capacity for Glenrothes, currently based in Napier Road, close to the town centre and within striking distance of many of the area’s most densely populated communities, is to be relocated to the former Fife police headquarters facility in Detroit Road, on the outskirts of town.
The Gazette believes the move could could take place as soon as April once a full audit of the both sites, currently under way, is completed.
The decision effectively marks the end of a long chapter in the policing based at the site which first opened in 1975.
With the creation of Police Scotland, and the announcement in January last year that Fife Police control room would close in March as part of a two-year restructuring, and with the threat of 300 job loses, the reshaping of the modern-day force has rendered the former Fife headquarters building massively under-utilised.
The Napier Road station was spared the last round of closures across Fife but reduced its hours open to the public from 24 hours to that of a daytime availability, from 7.00 a.m. until midnight.
It’s understood a police contact facility, in which the public can access officers, is likely to be provided in or near to the town’s main shopping area.
Chief Supt Garry McEwan, Divisional Commander for Fife, would not be drawn on closure dates but said: “As part of improving our accessibility to the public while making the necessary savings, I am exploring options around some of the extensive and expensive police buildings across Fife.
“We have two large police stations situated in Glenrothes both of which are under-occupied and inefficient in relation to space and running costs.
“We are in the process of consulting with staff and elected members to see what improvements can be made. I intend to keep local communities fully informed over the next few months.”
Long arm of the law stretches back to the beginning of town
The imminent closure brings to a close the latest chapter of a long tradition of policing, stretching back to the earliest days of the town’s existence.
The first two policemen in Glenrothes lived and worked out of two houses in Well Road. Constables David Winton and John Golding arrived in Woodside in 1954. Up until then, the village and the surrounding area had been under the jurisdiction of Markinch constable Jimmy Cargill.
With much of the town still under construction, crime largely consisted of building material thefts and domestic incidents.
As the town expanded, so did the police presence, moving into two adjacent houses in Rimbleton Avenue in 1959, which were made one by knocking through a connecting wall. The two officers were augmented by extra constables and a sergeant.
The move was supposed to be temporary but remained until 1971, when the now demolished shops in South Street were commandeered.
Four years later, the town’s first purpose built station was opened in Napier Road, South Parks.
The region also gained a Fife headquarters facility in Detroit Road in 1996.
Frontline services must be maintained
The news of the police station’s closure has drawn a mixed response from politicians across the Glenrothes area.
MP Lindsay Roy said he has written to Police Scotland to clarify the situation.
He added: “While it is true that the police service in Fife has its headquarters in Glenrothes, this is in a fairly remote location and I am concerned that closing the town centre office will inevitably mean a loss of service to the public.
“The police station in Napier Road is easily accessible from the town centre and the bus station, whereas the HQ building in Detroit Road is around 1.5 miles away.
“I am also worried that closure could mean a reduction in front-line officers on the beat – this is, after all, how the public view any streamlining of their police service.
“I appreciate that Police Scotland is continually trying to make itself more efficient and this is to be commended.
“However, any efficiencies must not come at the expense of service to the public.”
Councillor Ross Vettraino said: “It’s not the way the police service is set up, or where in the town it is based, but the effectiveness of that service to respond to incidents and emergencies across the town.
“There will still be a visible police presence as officers continue to patrol as normal. So as long as the service isn’t compromised in its capacity to deal quickly and effectively to crime, then I have no issue with the move.
“The public must understand that the police are publicly accountable and must run a service within financial constraints. To put Detroit Road building to a new use looks like good practice to me.”
Councillor Altany Craik, chairman of Glenrothes area committee, said: “I’ve yet to see the full extent of the changes but would expect the police to continue to operate as they have been currently, from the new location across town if that comes to fruition.
“As long as the people of Glenrothes can be guaranteed a service that isn’t compromised in any way, then I must support the move.”