First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised to look into the issue of restricted opening hours at some of Edinburgh’s police stations, following a question by Lothian MSP Gordon Lindhurst at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood today. He asked whether this was a gradual move towards closing police stations.
Recently released official figures have shown that some were operating much less than advertised. This included police stations which had been kept open three years ago in the face of cuts, and following an Edinburgh Evening News campaign.
“The First Minister may be aware that a recent freedom of information request has shown that public counters at some of Edinburgh’s police stations are shut or operate restricted hours more than they are open at advertised times.
“My understanding is that Leith police station, for example, is supposed to operate from 7am until midnight seven days a week, but was open as advertised on only 29 days between January and 22nd September last year.
“I am sure that the First Minister would not wish to be dismissive of Leithers concerns about this, so can she explain whether this is an attempt to reduce the police estate by the back door in the face of public opposition, and what reassurances can be given to those who still want face-to-face policing but who find the local station closed when they need it?”
In response, Sturgeon said she didn’t have the information about the issue in front of her, but promised to respond directly to Mr Lindhurst or to have Justice Secretary Michael Matheson look at the issue.
Speaking after FMQs, Lindhurst said:
“I am pleased that the First Minister was eventually able to give me an answer. She cannot have her government choose to answer questions about Police Scotland and its services on the issues that suit her, but not on others.
“Local people are concerned that they cannot always access police counters when they need to speak directly to an officer.
“The figures for Leith in particular are shocking, operating as advertised on only 29 days within the first nine months of last year.
“I am sure people across Edinburgh that are affected by this severe reduction in service will be pleased to hear that this is being looked at, and I look forward to the government response.”