South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has slammed plans by Police Scotland to axe a police surveillance unit based in Dumfries and Galloway, and move the posts to the central belt.
He said that, according to media reports, the local unit is to be wound up, even though its role includes monitoring organised crime gangs entering Scotland from England via the M74 and from Northern Ireland through the ferry ports at Cairnryan.
He was due to quiz the First Minister on the situation at Holyrood yesterday (Thursday) as this week’s Gazette went to print.
Mr Smyth said: “This is a shocking development and will have a huge impact on tackling crime in Galloway, and further afield.
“The Police Scotland surveillance team based in Dumfries has been a vital tool in tackling organised crime and is particularly important because it covers two key gateways into Scotland, the M74, a main route for drugs coming north, and the Port of Cairnryan near Stranraer.”
However, Chief Superintendent Linda Jones, Divisional Commander for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Protecting all our communities from those involved in any form of serious and organised crime remains a priority for us.
“We have to be dynamic and evolve to deal with the threats posed in our communities. We must optimise the deployment of our resources to ensure that we can have the greatest effect. In reality, to continue to locate the resources in the Dumfries and Galloway area does not represent the best use of our resources.
“This does not equate to any reduction in the level of service as local policing resources continue to strive to keep our communities safe.”