Renewed plea to retain public counter service at police stations

The public counter at Kinross is to close
The public counter at Kinross is to close

Fresh calls have been made for a re-think on the proposed closure of Kinross Police Station’s public counter amid fears about its impact on T in the Park.

Kinross is one of a number of police offices due to be closed to the public in a bid by Police Scotland to save some £4 million.

Others facing the axe include the counter at the Howe of Fife station in Auchtermuchty and the Tay Coast office in Newport.

But Liz Smith, Conservative MSP for mid Scotland and Fife, says she has the ‘gravest concerns’ about the closures, especially in the run-up to T in the Park.

“Every year the T in the Park festival site temporarily becomes the equivalent of the fifth largest town in Scotland over the weekend, and comparable to the largest city centre,” she said.

“This clearly brings with it additional policing issues and it is my understanding that Kinross Police Station is significantly busier during T in the Park with more police stationed and on duty as well as more visitors arriving in Kinross seeking assistance and advice.

“I fundamentally believe that it is important to bring policing closer to the public and that is why Scottish Conservatives have expressed the gravest concerns about what will be seen as yet another diminution of local services in a way that has already affected many local services.”

The closures have been planned as a result of a review carried out by Police Scotland that showed that the number of people to call at police stations had dropped in recent years.

In the case of Kinross, which is currently open from 9am to 5pm weekdays, data was gleaned over 10 days, including a weekend when T in the Park was being held at Balado.

The review revealed that 208 demands were made of the station assistant of which 14 could be classified as essential public counter functions. All but two of these were in relation to found property. Staff were asked to endorse any enquiries that were linked with T-in-the Park, but no entries were made.

In the case of Auchtermuchty, the station assistant had 56 enquiries to deal with over the 10-day survey period, of which five could be classified as core public counter functions and were all regarding found property.

No data was collected in Newport due to staff annual leave.

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson, who led the review, said: “The public access our services in many ways, but we have seen the number of people calling at public counters drop in recent years. Our review will reduce opening hours at some public counters across Scotland but this is where analysis of demand has provided evidence which has allowed us to take these steps without significantly impacting on the level of service enjoyed by communities.

“Keeping people safe is the focus of Police Scotland and this is an opportunity to deliver a more consistent, professional service, which will enable more officers to be deployed where and when they are needed the most in communities.

“We have developed a range of methods for public contact and service including the launch of 101, introducing contact points which connect callers at police stations direct to us and enhancing local policing throughout the country”.

A consultation is currently being carried out among staff and the closures are due to take effect in March.