Concerns over the future of eight Police Stations across Dumfries and Galloway have been raised in the Scottish Parliament by South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
The MSP questioned Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson over Police Scotland proposals that could see the closure of Police stations in Whithorn, Moffat, Dalry, Kirkcudbright, Dalbeattie, Gretna, Thornhill and Langholm.
However Dumfries and Galloway’s Commander said that the proposals are not about closing police stations and that some current buildings are not ‘flexible or fit to meet the future policing needs of communities’.
Meanwhile the Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council urged the Divisional Commander, Gary Ritchie, to ensure an open and transparent consultation process and urged Police Scotland to work with the council to consider alternative options to the complete removal of stations, including sharing facilities.
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “We made it absolutely clear to Police Scotland that we wanted to see an open and transparent consultation process over the future of these stations. That didn’t happen when Police Scotland scrapped traffic wardens, closed the police control room in Dumfries and axed Police Counters. I’m pleased Chief Superintendent Ritchie gave a commitment that he would do all he could to carry out a robust local consultation starting at the next meeting of the Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue Sub Committee on 11 October”.
Chief Superintendent Gary Ritchie said: “This is not about closing police stations but is about an estates strategy and how buildings can support local policing and recognise a range of factors that impact on decisions about which buildings are used. As a modern organisation, we are also seeking to consider opportunities where we can work in collaboration with our partners to deliver joined up services to communities. This work is ongoing and we will provide an update at the Council Sub Committee on 11 October”.”
Local MP Richard Arkless has described Police Scotland’s plans to streamline the number of police stations across Dumfries and Galloway as ‘disappointing’ and has urged people across Dumfries and Galloway to make their voices heard in the community consultation which has been set up to explore alternative options.
Police Scotland has launched a consultation to examine the current use of police stations in Dumfries and Galloway. They have undertaken a survey of the viability of unstaffed stations with a low footfall and found that Whithorn, Dalry, Kirkcudbright and Dalbeattie in the west of the region and Moffat, Gretna, Thornhill and Langholm in the east, all meet the criteria for potential rationalisation or change of use with a view to removing them from the local police estate profile.
A consultation with community groups, elected representatives, partners and community leaders is to begin to ensure that the proposals are fully understood throughout the community and alternative options are explored.
Mr Arkless said: “It is important to remember in light of this news, that this review will not result in any job losses and it will not affect the police response times.
“Although disappointing, this is about closing offices where no one works. Police Scotland are considering a range of alternative options such as the possibility of sharing facilities which is being explored in Kirkcudbright, to maintain a police presence in our communities.
“Re-evaluating the resources you have and establishing whether they are being utilised correctly is a sensible thing to do however I acknowledge that the loss of any facility, even an underused one, to a rural community is upsetting and I fully understand the concerns of local people.”