Police Counter Closures
Last week, Police Scotland announced that both Port Glasgow and Gourock police counters would close to the public in March.
From start to finish their consultation process has been a sham. The public were barely given enough time to submit their views. It was carried out on-line, making it difficult for those who have no access to have their say. The footfall user figures used by Police Scotland to justify the closures were questionable. Worst of all, the views of Port Glasgow and Gourock Community Councils were simply ignored.
Both communities wanted to keep the counters open arguing they provided a vital service for their local neighbourhoods. They also raised concerns that the relationship between the police and local people would be put in jeopardy. I agree with these sentiments. I also believe that the counters provide a visible police presence which reassures the public.
While it may be the case that the way in which people interact with the police has changed, due to things like mobile phones, the internet and twitter, there are many people who still like the face-to-face contact with the police. Indeed, a significant number of people still used the counters in both Port Glasgow and Gourock.
It is also important to recognise that a police station with open doors is significant in a range of scenarios; for the victims of anti-social behaviour; for the young man who has been accosted on the street; and for the parents worried about a missing child.
Police Scotland has said the public will still be able to meet with officers to discuss their concerns. Given the high handed way that they have handled the consultation, the local communities will be understandably sceptical, and will be watching closely to ensure they deliver on this promise.