Police bosses on spot over counter closure ‘shambles’

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POLICE chiefs today faced demands for answers over the “shambles” of their counter closures policy which has seen them failing to staff the alternative hubs which they claimed would offer a better service.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, who was a leading supporter of the Evening News Save Our Stations campaign, has written to Edinburgh police commander Mark Williams, calling for an explanation after Police Scotland missed the March 3 date it had set for closing Corstorphine and Craigmillar police station counters and transferring the services to nearby neighbourhood centres.

The Evening News revealed yesterday that no police personnel had been seen at either hub in the two weeks since they were supposed to move over. Instead, other staff were forced to advise people to dial the non-emergency 101 number.

However, Police Scotland refused to discuss the reasons for its failure to implement the new arrangements.

In her letter, Ms Dugdale, who had argued the case for the counter at Craigmillar station in particular to be saved, said: “I am relieved that the station will continue to be open to the public in the short term as I believe it still has a purpose within the area. However, I would like to know what the plans for the proposed change now look like.

“I completed a survey of many people in the area during the consultation process and provided this to Police Scotland. I feel that all those people, including myself, who took the time to respond, should be kept well aware of the progress of the changes.”

She listed the points she wanted police chiefs to answer:

• What were the reasons for missing the March 3 deadline?

• When is the proposed switch to the East Neighbourhood Hub is likely to take place?

• Has Police Scotland agreed this move with the local authority and their officers?

• Will adequate resources be provided to the East Neighbourhood Hub to accommodate the police and these high levels of footfall?

• Would the opening hours of the centre have to change and how would we protect the other services within the centre so they are not affected by these changes in terms of resources?

More than 1200 people a fortnight were using Craigmillar police station and 445 visited Corstorphine over 11 days, according to police figures. But force chiefs said a better service could be provided at the community hubs in Drumbrae and Craigmillar, which house libraries and other council services.

Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart branded the failure a shambles.

Police planned to shut counters at ten stations, but later agreed three should be retained.