Police Scotland have announced proposals to close their Dumfries contact and command centre as part of cost-cutting measures across the country.
The force wants to close its control rooms in Aberdeen, Stirling, Dumfries, Glenrothes and Pitt Street in Glasgow and keep open facilities at Govan, Motherwell, Inverness, Dundee and Bilston Glen near Edinburgh.
Reacting to the announcement, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson said: “While there has always been a suspicion that this closure might take place from the moment Police Scotland announced a review of the service, the decision that Dumfries is to close still comes as something of a shock. It is a deeply disappointing decision given that 34 civilians and 10 members of the police force currently work at the centre.
“If the promised improvement in efficiency takes place, this change will not impact on the efficiency of reporting crime or the speed of reaction to reported crime, but it does mean that there will be at least 34 jobs less in Dumfries. Despite promises that there will be no compulsory redundancies, 34 jobs are to be transferred to other parts of Scotland and that is highly regrettable, especially at a time when every local job is at a premium.
“I have never been in favour of a single police force on the grounds that I believe that centralisation is not conducive to good local policing. This move will result in even more centralisation, and I cannot support it.”
Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for South Scotland, has also reacted angrily. He said: “First it was Dumfries fire control centre, then it was front desks at police stations right across the south west and now it’s Dumfries police control centre in the firing line, threatening yet more local knowledge gained over years by our emergency services thanks to the SNP’s centralist agenda.
“This shows nothing but contempt for communities across Dumfries and Galloway and has led to essential frontline services being ripped out of the heart of our communities. This latest move will do nothing for community safety.
“Liberal Democrats warned at the time of the last election that the SNP’s obsession with centralising our police and fire services would be bad news for Dumfries and Galloway.
“At the time we were told we were scaremongering. Sadly those warnings have become reality.”
The control rooms deal with emergency 999 calls, as well as calls to the non-emergency 101 number. The force has estimated that the changes, to be introduced in stages over the next two years, would save £46.62m and £73.68m by 2026.