Public snubs chance to meet with police at hubs

The Craigmillar community hub. Picture: Jon Savage

The Craigmillar community hub. Picture: Jon Savage

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NEW police contact points in neighbourhood centres intended to replace axed station counters are apparently being snubbed by the public.

Plans to replace the counters at Corstorphine and Craigmillar police stations with desks at nearby community hubs as part of a controversial shake-up of services are still waiting to be implemented.

But “interim surgeries” set up for an hour a day at the two hubs in Drumbrae and Niddrie Mains Road are failing to attract the public.

And plans to extend the surgeries from one hour to four hours a day have been dropped.

Politicians who have opposed plans to close a total of seven police stations in Lothian to the public as part of the cost-saving scheme said the poor response reinforced the case for keeping the counters open. The permanent police desks at the hubs were due to come into operation on March 3, but their introduction was delayed and the counters at Corstorphine and Craigmillar are still being staffed in the meantime.

Police chiefs said the desks for the hubs were still to be designed and built and no new date had been set for the switch to take place.

Senior officers had argued the hubs – which also house libraries and other council offices – would prove a more popular place for the public to go to speak to police.

But Superintendent Liz McAinsh admitted: “There has not been a lot of footfall.”

She said once the desks at the hub were up and running, they would be staffed from 9am to 5pm.

“What we have at the moment is an interim measure we have put in place. Once we launch the full service I’m sure the response will be different,” she said.

“We’re working positively towards getting a new facility up and running. We are progressing as quickly as we can.”

Last year, Edinburgh divisional commander Chief Superintendent Mark Williams defended the move to the hubs, saying he knew the “importance of being visible and reaching members of the public at a time and place that is convenient”. He added footfall in places such as hubs, libraries and supermarkets is “significantly higher than police stations”.

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP and former policeman Mike Crockart said the police would be better to retain the station counters. He said: “It would make sense to keep the police station counters open for the public because they know where they are.”

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said the response to the surgeries was disappointing. She said: “It doesn’t seem to be working out at the moment.”

Police Scotland originally proposed to close counters at ten stations in Edinburgh and the Lothians, but later relented on three – South Queensferry, Linlithgow and Tranent.

In addition to Corstorphine and Craigmillar, counters at Oxgangs, Balerno, Armadale, West Calder and Bonnyrigg have already closed.