POLICE chiefs today launched a city-wide consultation exercise on the future of local policing – in one of the areas where they want to shut the police station to the public.
Police Scotland chose to hold the first of a series of drop-in sessions on their 2014-17 Edinburgh Policing Plan in South Queensferry, where the police station counter faces the axe.
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP and former policeman Mike Crockart accused the force of “insensitivity on a massive scale” in starting a consultation in a place where it seemed determined to go against people’s views on the counter closure.
Keith Giblett, chair of Queensferry and District community council, said residents had not been consulted on the proposal to close the front desk.
He said: “They are saying the counter service is not part of this survey, but that’s what’s on people’s minds.”
He added that holding the drop-in session between noon and 2pm on a Friday when most people were at work was “absolutely appalling”.
He said: “I suggested [that if] they stood outside Tesco or Scotmid on a Saturday morning they would get the views of the community.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Alastair Shields said the counter closure was a hot topic in the area. He said: “One suggestion now is that the police could have a hub in the library, but people wonder what the point is when it’s just next door to the police station and they worry about the library as a suitable place for people to have to talk about assaults or give personal details.”
The police say the drop-in sessions will let people have their say on the policing plan, which will outline the approach to be taken to policing communities in the Capital, based on local priorities.
They have also launched an online survey to gather views.
Superintendent Matt Richards said: “The results of the consultation will be of huge significance in guiding our approach towards policing in Edinburgh and it is vital that residents play their part in helping to inform the content of the plan. The community drop-in sessions are a great opportunity for people to have their say. I would encourage people to get involved and help us shape our plans around what is important to them.”
Cllr Mike Bridgman, convener of the city council’s police and fire committee, said: “Community policing is vital for building safer neighbourhoods and I am very pleased that residents are being asked to participate in helping shape its future.”
The drop-in sessions continue next week on Monday: Central Library, noon-2pm; Tuesday: Craigmillar Library, 11am-1pm; Wednesday: McDonald Road Library, 2-4pm; Friday: Newington Library, 2.30-4.30pm; Saturday: Blackhall Library, 10am-noon.