Comment: ‘Switches in policing must be debated’

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ONE wonders whether the first year of Police Scotland will end up as a textbook case study in blundering public relations.

In April, a largely respected Lothian and Borders service was replaced with Police Scotland, a necessary move, but one which stoked fears of senior coppers being out of touch with the specific needs of Scotland’s capital. That, of course, was wholly rejected by new Chief Constable Steve House.

But the reality has been bizarre and perturbing.

Police raids on saunas have thrown the city’s softly-softly approach to sex up in the air.

At the same time, officers have told us that so few people use police stations any more that they many of them should be closed.

We’ve also had a change in policing priorities with resources moved away from housebreaking and towards domestic violence.

Set aside for a moment whether the police are right or wrong on these changes. That can be argued both ways.

But if there is to be major switch in how we police the Capital and how we access services, then that must be debated openly, and fully consulted upon.

As one senior city source said last night: “What matters to people is anti-social behaviour and feeling safe on the streets, not chasing hookers and closing police stations.”

Our new Chief Constable insisted that local policing needs would be considered, but has done exactly the opposite.

And the plan to close police stations has the feeling of a fait accompli, rather than proper consultation.

If Steve House thinks he is right, then make the case. Have the debate. But pushing ahead with change without bringing the city with him is folly.

Policing Scotland’s Capital needs to be a partnership. And Mr House needs to remember that he represents the whole of Scotland, not just Glasgow.