LEWIS Macdonald, the North East Labour MSP, has written to Chief Constable Stephen House to protest against controversial proposals to cut the number of counter staff at the former Grampian force headquarters in Aberdeen and other police stations in the North east.
Details of the proposed staff cuts, widely circulated amongst police staff ahead of a consultation on the issue, reveal that the new national force is planning to cut the number of counter staff at the Queen Street divisional headquarters in Aberdeen from 12.5 full time equivalent posts to ten.
The number of counter staff at the Bucksburn office would be cut from two to zero, Inverurie from six to three, Elgin from 4.5 to three, Peterhead from five to three and Fraserburgh from four to three.
Mr Macdonald said: “Plans to cut the number of police staff working on station counters will hit services. Fewer staff mean that stations could end up closed when they are advertised as open, or police officers will have to backfill to cover sickness or annual leave.
“Proposals to close some station counters entirely and reduce the staff at many more will cut the important access that the public has to their local police officers; contact which cannot be replaced by a phone call or a Tweet.”
He states in his letter to the Chief Constable: “I am concerned that these staff cuts, along with plans to close some station counters in the region entirely, will have a major impact on North east communities and how members of the public contact the police.
“The plans appear to assume that everyone has access to the Internet or that they will have the available credit on a mobile phone to call the 101 number.”
Mr Macdonald adds: “I believe there is a real risk police staff cuts will lead to an increase in police officers taking over the duties of police staff at station counters in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“This would clearly remove those officers from front-line duties appropriate to their role and responsibilities. Local communities expect their local police officers to be out on the streets dealing with crime, not staffing the counter at the local station.”