Con­cern raised over plan to close po­lice con­trol rooms in the north

The Oban Times - - News 9 -

CON­CERNS have been raised about the pro­posal to close po­lice con­trol rooms in the north with one High­land politi­cian call­ing it ‘un­ac­cept­able’.

Po­lice Scot­land plan to close the emer­gency con­trol rooms in In­ver­ness and Aberdeen, spark­ing out­rage and wor­ries about public safety.

This comes at the same time as a re­view of po­lice op­er­at­ing func­tions af­ter two peo­ple were left with­out help for three days af­ter crash­ing on the M9 ear­lier this month. John Yuill died at the scene and his girl­friend, La­mara Bell, later died in hos­pi­tal.

A spokes­woman for Po­lice Scot­land said they are ‘com­mit­ted’ to the change, which will be sub­ject to con­sul­ta­tion by the Scot­tish Po­lice Au­thor­ity (SPA).

If the clo­sures go ahead, emer­gency calls for the north would be dealt with from Dundee or the cen­tral belt from the end of this year. Rhoda Grant, MSP for the High­lands and Is­lands, said: ‘I think it is un­ac­cept­able that the clo­sure plan for emer­gency con­trol rooms is not put on hold at least un­til we fully un­der­stand what went wrong with the M9 in­ci­dent.

‘How can the SPA and se­nior of­fi­cers within Po­lice Scot­land con­tinue with a plan if there are found to be fail­ings in it? I would have thought the com­mon sense and log­i­cal ap­proach to these calls would have been to halt the clo­sure plan at least un­til the out­come of the en­quiry is known.’

Coun­cil­lor Mar­garet David­son, leader of High­land coun­cil, also ex­pressed her con­cerns: ‘I am very dis­ap­pointed to hear that Po­lice Scot­land has an­nounced they are go­ing to press ahead with the clo­sure of In­ver­ness and Aberdeen con­trol rooms. This does not help public con­fi­dence in de­ci­sions made by Po­lice Scot­land. To con­tinue with cen­tral­i­sa­tion plans with­out await­ing the out­come of the re­view shows an un­will­ing­ness to lis­ten and is not a welcome re­sponse.’

As­sis­tant chief con­sta­ble, Val Thom­son ,said Po­lice Scot­land will en­gage with lo­cal author­i­ties to ad­dress con­cerns.

She added: ‘Lo­cal polic­ing re­mains at the heart of Po­lice Scot­land. That prin­ci­ple is very much at the fore­front of the pro­posed changes to C3 di­vi­sion in terms of how we deal with calls to us and how we re­spond. Sim­i­lar con­cerns have been voiced else­where dur­ing ear­lier stages of the pro­gramme of change and these have not ma­te­ri­alised.

‘ We re­main com­mit­ted to the strate­gic change pro­gramme for Con­tact, Com­mand and Con­trol Di­vi­sion, each phase of which is sub­ject to rig­or­ous con­sul­ta­tion and con­sid­er­a­tion for ap­proval by the SPA.’

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