Fears for police stations amid opening time revie

Oxgangs Police Station.  Picture Neil Hanna
Oxgangs Police Station. Picture Neil Hanna
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A REVIEW of police office opening hours has sparked fears over the future of some city stations.

Police Scotland has ordered a comprehensive re-examination of when police station public counters are open as part of a search for financial savings.

But there are concerns some stations could close altogether, with Portobello, Leith and Oxgangs among those feared to be in the firing line.

There has also been speculation that the plan is to have only one 24-hour station in each division. Edinburgh currently has three.

In a letter to local politicians, Police Scotland said the review was being carried out “in light of the challenging budget set”.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said she feared for the future of Portobello police station and had written to both Police Scotland and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill seeking reassurances.

She said: “I’m very anxious about rumours I’m hearing about Portobello police station. It’s quite a building and I’m sure to someone in the police it might look like an appealing asset sale, but in terms of local justice and its place in the community it’s important it stays where it is.”

Concerns were also voiced at the prospect of Leith losing its police station.

Leith Labour councillor Gordon Munro said: “Leith has always needed a police service, as illustrated by the tongue-twister ‘The Leith police dismisseth us’, which was used by the police to decide whether someone was sober or not. It would take someone who was not sober to be daft enough to think of closing Leith police station.”

Leith Green councillor Chas Booth said: “That would be terrible news for Leith and for community policing. I will be writing to the local commander to seek assurances Leith will not be closing.”

Oxgangs was considered for closure in a previous review, but Colinton/Fairmilehead Conservative councillor Elaine Aitken, left, said more services had recently been moved into it.

She said: “Like most police stations, Oxgangs is very much at the heart of the community. It’s a very busy and well staffed station, and I would be really concerned if it was potentially one of the ones to close.”

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said closing police stations could be dangerous.

He said: “If someone is in a difficult situation and goes to a police station for sanctuary or help and finds it closed it could exacerbate the situation.”

Police stations in East, West and Midlothian, such as Haddington and North Berwick, are also included in the review.

Lucille Inglis, Unison convener representing police staff, said several stations had been closed in the past 18 months, including Gorebridge, Newbattle, Loanhead and Prestonpans.

She said: “Our concern is they will be closing more of the current stations and selling them off to save money.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are reviewing our policing operations across the service in order to deliver efficiencies and ensure we have the right structures in place to deliver local priorities. Any significant changes will be subject to local engagement.”