October 12th, 2010

If you go down to the nick today

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

Northern Constabulary is currently wringing its corporate hands at the prospect of having to close up to 16 police stations.

The force is├é┬áresponsible├é┬áfor policing the outreaches of Scotland, the Highlands, Orkneys, Shetland & Western Isles, probably the the remotest communities in these islands. The force have described the├é┬áproposed├é┬ácuts, which would include the loss of 25 officers & 50 civilian staff as “extraordinary” and “of a level not seen before”.

Clearly, they have no experience of the cuts in service around my force area. We have been closing police stations for years. I have spouted forth many times before on the lack of service to our local communities through the re-tasking of officers from front-line to specialist squads & newly-created  bean-counting departments. With this has gone the withdrawal of a service which once was open to any member of all communities 24-hours a day.

I drive past my local police station at various times in the week, day & night. Rarely do I see the lights on & someone behind the front desk ready to meet, greet & deal with anything the public want to discuss. More often than not I see people talking on the phone on the wall outside, probably to one of my colleagues in the control room who then has to arrange from an officer to come from the station in the next town, at some unspecified time later.

At least the police station is still there & does have some office capacity for a department or two who don’t deal with front-line service. In other towns the police stations have been sold for development. The constant mantra of serving the community seems to have been lost on the people who now expect the residents to drive to another town if they want to report something or discuss an issue at their local nick. It’s also been lost on the courts who are still bailing suspects to’sign on’ at police stations which are only open for a few hours a day. The phones in the control room ring all the time from people who have arrived to sign the bail register because the police station is closed, again.

When I saw the BBC report about Northern Constabulary, I was surprised they still had police stations to close.

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  1. Tony F says:

    Oh well, last man, lock up on the way out.

    October 13th, 2010 at 16:26

  2. Gary says:

    They closed the nick I worked from despite local objections on the grounds that it was not used enough. I wrote a report in response that closure would have a direct impact on local policing as we would be deployed from a police station 10 miles away and therefore for a chunk of each shift we would no longer be on the patch, at the time I estimated the first and last hour. To finish I added that the country had a nuclear deterrent that had never been used but we still held on to it and that for local people the police station was more important than having the bomb. Station closed and up went the petty crime and complaints that a police officer was never seen. All of which were true. Once gone they will never return.

    October 13th, 2010 at 22:30

  3. Civ_In_The_City says:

    It sums up the ‘modern management’ approach to policing, a large chunk of which is attempting to run policing as though it is simply another service industry. Like car insurers or travel agencies.

    Having a dedicated police building in the locality means there is a permanent police presence in society. That`s absolutely fundamental to everything else the police do. Or maybe it isn`t?

    I reckon, if local police forces can`t afford to run local nicks because their budget is going on other things which are a higher priority, you have to look at whether the police are the right people to be doing those other things at all.

    They`re trading in quality local policing for regional or national policing. The reality is both need to be done.

    October 14th, 2010 at 10:23

  4. Stonehead says:

    So, the only 24-hour police stations will be in Wick, Dingwall, Inverness and Fort William. From those, police will be covering an area the size of Belgium but with much worse roads and much worse weather. Oh, and what will happen to the specials when they no longer have a nearby station to parade at?

    October 18th, 2010 at 15:13

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