Nearly 30 police stations across Scotland are set to close under plans announced on Thursday.
Police Scotland said it was looking to permanently shut more than 40 buildings as it looks to save money amid major budget concerns.
It said this would include “29 police stations and other buildings” of which it said three are already vacant and another 14 have no public access.
Police will also consult on closing another 16 properties “which are all already vacant or are plots of land with no buildings”.
“Plans to close a further 14 properties will be brought forward at a later date,” a spokesperson for the force said.
David Kennedy, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, described the news as “devastating”.
Police Scotland said it would consult and engage with the public on the proposals before making any decisions.
It added that many of the properties are already vacant or surplus and that officers will be moved to other buildings.
What stations are proposed for closure?
- Glasgow and West: Castlemilk, Saracen, Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, Stewart Street, Gorbals, Baillieston, Pacific Quay, Paisley, Ferguslie Park, Greenock, Dumbarton, Alexandria, Ayr
- Edinburgh and Fife: Balerno, Fettes, Leith, West End, Portobello, Oakley
- Tayside: Dundee Annexe, Ryehill, Hilltown
- Highlands and North East: Muir of Ord, Mastrick, Rosemount, Seaton, Whinhill, Torry
As part of the review, local divisional commanders have been asked to identify where they would want to locate their resources to “better meet the demands of 21st-century policing” and to highlight any buildings in their areas that are underused or surplus.
Deputy chief constable, Malcolm Graham said: “Our estate needs to be fit for 21st century policing, putting service enhancement, visibility, and engagement at the heart of the communities we serve.
“These are core components of the legitimacy and consent on which policing in Scotland relies.
“Our presence in communities is not defined by buildings but by the officers and staff who work there, and we have already introduced technology that enables our officers to remain in local areas, reducing the need for them to return to police stations to deal with paperwork.
“We are determined to continue to improve our visibility and accessibility, as well as to bring partners together to deliver services in the most efficient and effective way.
“The buildings in which our officers and staff work need to be safe, functional spaces, and they need to be sustainable and adaptable enough to meet changing public expectations and the changing nature of policing.”
DCC Graham said when Police Scotland was formed more than a decade ago it inherited a large and ageing estate – much of which was not fit for purpose.
He said: “The locations of many inherited buildings no longer meet the requirements of local communities and in some cases the organisation is currently maintaining multiple buildings in the same geographic area, less than five miles apart.
“Some of the buildings are just a few miles apart, others are used by only a handful of police officers or staff and have no public access, while many are rarely visited by a member of the public.
“For the majority of properties, the proposed moves will be an average of four miles from their current location.
“Local communities will therefore continue to receive the same high level of service from officers, and still from within their local area.”
DCC Graham said the financial savings of these property disposals would be re-invested into providing police services.
Scottish Police Federation general secretary David Kennedy told STV News the move was due to a lack of funding from the Scottish Government.
He said: “The proposed closure of 59 police offices is devastating to the communities we serve and has been clearly spurred on and is a direct result of the £2bn that has been stripped out of policing over the last 10 years.
“Community policing is the cornerstone of the police service and the closing of stations won’t allow community policing to thrive and puts the policing model in Scotland into total jeopardy and uncertainty.
“Today is a dark day for the people of Scotland and for the police officers that serve them. We can only hope that the Scottish Government fulfils their promises and starts to properly fund the police service of Scotland. “
Scottish Labour said the news was “yet another hammer blow” to police Scotland due to “chronic underfunding by the SNP”.
And Scottish Tory MSP Russell Findlay said the move comes after 140 police stations closed under the SNP.
“The announcement that 59 more might be forced to shut down will devastate over-stretched officers and put communities at even greater risk,” he said.
To review the proposals and have your say visit Police Scotland’s engagement hub.
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