South of Scotland MSPs Dr Aileen McLeod and Joan McAlpine have written to Chief Constable of Police Scotland Sir Stephen House and Chairman of the Scottish Police Authority Vic Emery to express serious concerns over the proposed closure of the Police control room in Dumfries.
The pair also raised the issue with the Cabinet Secretary Kenny MacAskill in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon during topical questions.
Dr McLeod commented today:
“I am dismayed that Police Scotland is proposing to close the Dumfries control room and I am very unhappy indeed that this proposal has been brought forward by them with six days’ notice and, as far as I can see, no local consultation or engagement whatever.
“People are very angry indeed with this high-handed approach and I fully support them in that. I have therefore written to both the Chief Constable and the Chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, to which he is accountable, to advise them of those concerns in no uncertain terms. This is Police Scotland’s proposal – they developed it and did the background work to justify it – so I have also asked whether at any time Dumfries was considered as a location for any of the national force support services. I want to know whether any future role for Dumfries in these new plans was even considered.
“I have also asked the SPA Chairman to consider carefully whether he is satisfied the case for closing the Dumfries control room has been made and whether he feels that six day’s notice of this decision is enough to fully consider all of the options. I have to say that I am not convinced on either count. I hope that Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority, which will make the final decision, will reconsider and take more time to examine the alternatives.”
Ms McAlpine added:
“The apparent lack of consultation that appears to have preceded the publication of these proposals is deeply concerning.
“Dumfries & Galloway prides itself on the efficiency of its community policing. The move to a single force, reductions in public access counters and now the proposed removal of the police control room create a risk, or certainly the impression of the risk, that a service which was once very close to the community is becoming distant from them.
“I certainly hope that this will not be the case; however, a longer and more transparent engagement with interested parties, as well as an explanation as to how this will be avoided would certainly have been welcome. I have expressed these concerns both to the Cabinet Secretary, as well as to Sir Stephen House and I sincerely hope that the decision will be delayed in order to explore what other course of action could be taken.”