POLICE chiefs have told city leaders they will look to maintain a community presence across the Capital – including areas where station counters are due to be axed.
The message from Chief Constable Sir Stephen House and Edinburgh police commander Mark Williams during a summit with council chiefs comes as support continues to grow for the Evening News campaign calling for a rethink on proposed closures and cutbacks.
Council leader Andrew Burns and deputy Steve Cardownie described the meeting at the City Chambers as “constructive”.
Five city police stations are due to close their public counters and three more will have their opening hours slashed.
Police plan to switch operations at Craigmillar and Corstorphine to local neighbourhood hubs, which already house libraries, housing and social work officials. Front desks at Oxgangs, Balerno and South Queensferry are due to be lost completely.
However, the police chiefs said that they would look at alternative ways of delivering the service across the city, including these three areas.
Councillor Burns said: “Chief Superintendent Williams presented the case for reclassifying stations where public counters can be co-located with other services and reassured us that similar arrangements will be explored for those currently proposed for closure.”
Writing in the Evening News earlier this week, Chief Supt Williams said: “We know the importance of being visible and reaching members of the public at a time and place that is convenient for them. Footfall in places like hubs, libraries and supermarkets is significantly higher than police stations, and these are places that we may use in the future to further improve our engagement.”
Today, Police Scotland said the comments at the summit did not represent any change in what it had been saying since the review was published last week, but confirmed alternative bases would be considered for officers in Oxgangs, Balerno and South Queensferry.
At yesterday’s summit, the council leaders also raised concerns about apparent changes in policing policy on issues from saunas to drinking in the street.
Cllr Burns said: “Sir Stephen gave his assurances that Police Scotland is not promoting a ‘one size fits all’ approach and that policing plans for Edinburgh will reflect the city’s priorities and unique position as Scotland’s capital city.”
Cllr Cardownie said the police chiefs had given “good operational reasons” for what had happened.
He said: “Sir Stephen made it clear Mark Williams was running policing in the city, he was running the national force and he recognised there were local priorities and local ways of going about policing.”
Cllr Cardownie said the police chiefs had said recent raids on saunas were about “clamping down on illegality” and had been misunderstood.
“We were reassured,” he said. “On the increase in stop and search, they said they believed it had worked in certain areas and there had been an increase in what they call productive searches, but they are very conscious it has to be done with discretion. And when it came to street drinking, he said they were only targeting people who abused the privilege – drinking to excess, indulging in antisocial behaviour, intimidating passers-by – and they had no intention of curbing drinking outside bars and restaurants or causal drinking in places like the Meadows, where people might have a few cans of lager or a bottle of wine with a barbecue.”
The council is threatening to cut funding for additional community police officers because of concerns they are being diverted to other duties and not turning up at local meetings.
Cllr Cardownie said: “They said they would provide us with information demonstrating the money the council provides was being well spent. They are going to look at addressing police attendance at community councils.”
Porty says ‘no’ to counter closures plan
PETITIONERS in Portobello are vowing to fight the planned counter closure in their town.
A Facebook page – Save Porty Police Station – was set up when the review was announced in summer, attracting hundreds of people to pledge their support.
Now Favers Candy Emporium, on the High Street, is one of scores of businesses proudly displaying our poster and petition.
Owner Tony Faver said the service was crucial to the town.
He said: “We do get problems here with kids, I don’t think closing the station will help this.”
More than 100 readers have returned coupons in support of the Evening News campaign against the proposed cuts. Petitions can be signed at venues across
the city including The Hunter’s Tryst in Oxgangs and Town
House chip shop in South Queensferry.
Post petitions to EEN Save Our Stations, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS, or call and we will collect and replace them.
Save our Stations
How you can help
Back the campaign by displaying a poster and signing the petition, which is already available to sign at several locations including:
• The Mill at St Joseph’s, the cafe beside Balerno Parish Church;
• Balerno Garage Ltd, Deanpark Brae;
• Sideburns Barber Shop, Oxgangs Broadway, Oxgangs;
• Craigmillar Post Office, Niddrie Mains Road.
To receive a petition and poster e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131-620 8733, or call into the offices at 108 Holyrood Road.
Email the following to SoS@edinburghnews.com along with your name and address
“Dear Sir Stephen House,
I want my local police station to stay open to the public. Please think again.”