Comment: Police cuts not community’s best interest

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There were widespread concerns ahead of the merger of Scotland’s eight police forces about the impact it might have on local policing.

This newspaper was clear in its view that creating a single force was a good idea because of the savings that could be made by sharing backroom services such as IT, payroll, personnel and so on. These savings were crucial, we argued, in protecting front-line services and maintaining the existing links between the police and local commmunities.

Our view in that respect has not changed. We still believe that a single force can deliver the best police service possible for Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Closing the doors of police stations across the region to the public, however, goes completely against the vision that we – and many others – have for policing in our communities.

Of course the service needs to modernise. The way officers work has to constantly change, to make the most of advancing technology and to keep pace with the tactics of 21st-century criminals.

And it is vital that the force offers the best possible value for money. The idea of sharing premises with other public agencies is sound and to be encouraged.

But changes, like those announced yesterday, must be driven by what is in the best interests of our communities – not just because it saves money.

Closing the door of police stations in communities across the Lothians is hard to justify.

We are led to believe that demand for front counter services is falling and that, for the moment at least, officers will continue to work These buildings. In these circumstances, it seems perverse to close the public counters – unless, of course, this is a prelude to selling off the buildings to save money.

Community policing is all about the public being able to speak to local officers. That should happen face-to-face as well as on the phone and via the internet. Our message is simple: Save our Stations.