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 ├é┬ábean-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.