Comment: It does little to inspire any confidence

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The police presence in our communities is one of the things that makes us feel safe.

There might be trouble in our neighbourhood from time to time, but it is always reassuring to know the police are just along the road and that we can get hold of them when we really need them. Alongside the NHS and our schools, they are probably the service we value most.

Community police officers are not only vital in the fight against crime, they also provide an invaluable service by giving us peace of mind.

It is worth remembering how important they are to our quality of life as we face up to the prospect of more public spending cuts.

There will be concern in Corstorphine and Craigmillar – and further afield – about the “missing” police officers who were due to start work in their community hubs last week.

The local police station counters have, of course, remained open while police chiefs find the staff they need to take on these new duties.

But police chiefs scrambling around to find the necessary staff to serve the public at these community hubs is a cause for serious concern. It leaves the impression of a badly over-stretched force, or one that is poorly organised.

It is unfortunate that this has happened so soon after the controversial closure of police counters across the Lothians. The fact Police Scotland have been unable to hit their own deadline for providing their proposed replacement service does little to inspire confidence in the new arrangements.

It follows widespread criticism of the handling of the public consultation into the counter closures and an unwillingness to explain the rationale behind which counters were eventually axed and which were saved.

Police chiefs need to show their commitment to local communities and be more open about the problems they face in delivering the services they have promised.