Today I have called for answers from the Scottish Government over the threat of local police station closures. This follows news that Police Scotland are reviewing the future of 58 local stations, including a number of stations in their East division which covers my region of Mid Scotland and Fife.
Under the SNP, Police Scotland faces a £27 million revenue budget overspend. The overspend is forcing Police Scotland’s hand and the potential closure of local stations is just the next step for a force desperately trying to make ends meet.
SNP ministers can no longer bury their head in the sand and claim that this will not have an impact on local policing. Amongst the stations reported to be under-threat are Anstruther, Bannockburn, Bridge of Allan and Tullibody.
The details where revealed following a freedom of information request after it was announced that Police Scotland intend to reduce ‘floor space’ by up to 25% through an estate strategy review.
This will cause considerable alarm in communities across Scotland and the public therefore needs to be kept informed every step of the way. That is why the secrecy involved is particularly worrying, with this only coming to light following a FoI request.
Rather than having a force that can keep our local communities safe, while dealing with the changing nature of crime in this country, we have one that is focused on balancing the books.
Since 2013, 44 police properties have been declared surplus to requirements. In 2014, Police Scotland cut several police station front counters despite local campaigns against the closures.
We need to have a serious debate about what sort of police force we want in Scotland, yet under the SNP all we are getting is cuts and excuses.
I will be seeking an urgent response from SNP ministers in Parliament at the first opportunity because the public deserves answers from the government.