Comment: Police failed to address key questions

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it is ironic that the police have upset some sauna operators by writing to them to explain exactly how they regard their premises.

For it is precisely a lack of clear communication that has caused much of the furore around the 
policing of the Capital.

The force still insists that its policy on sex-for-sale saunas has not changed when the evidence to the contrary is all around us. If you talk to MSPs and councillors, they do not know what is going on. And there has been no explanation to the wider public.

Similar problems have beset the plans to close ten police counters across the Lothians and cut the hours at three more.

The status of the public consultation was not made clear – the only formal consultation taking place is with police staff – nor has who will make the final decision.

But the main concern is a singular failure to properly address pressing questions.

Every year, more than 100,000 people use the counters facing closure in the Lothians. It is perfectly clear that a great many people value the opportunity to talk face to face with the police in their community. Yet the response has been to suggest that many of the issues they want to talk about are not “core public counter functions”, dismissing reporting crime at a police station as an “ancillary demand”. There is talk of dialling 101, using the internet and police setting up stall in supermarkets, but no explanation of why someone cannot respond to a buzzer in a building where staff are working inside.

There is great concern that these closures are a prelude to shutting stations. A separate review of force-owned buildings is ongoing. Yet stock response is merely that the current review is not considering station closures.

We understand that changes are always painful and there will always be resistance. But this comes down to the most pressing question of all – who decides what policing we get? The public and their elected representatives or someone else?