19 Aug 2012
A fifth of police stations across Scotland have closed or reduced their hours since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed that dozens have shut altogether, demonstrating the Scottish Government’s further erosion of local accountability.
The news comes as the Scottish Government is considering applicants for the chief constable of the new single police force.
In the last five years, 56 police stations have closed, while a further 23 have had their hours reduced.
The majority of the closures have occurred in rural areas, meaning some Scots would be forced to travel longer distances to speak to a police officer.
Strathclyde Police were unable to say what proportion of its stations had gone to reduced hours, meaning the true total is sure to be even higher.
That force is currently consulting on the prospect of reducing hours at a number of stations.
The data was obtained from Scottish police forces through Freedom of Information.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman David McLetchie MSP said:
“The SNP has presided over a succession of police stations closures.
“Despite paying lip service to the importance of local policing, the Scottish Government has watched on as one in five police stations have closed or had their opening hours significantly reduced.
“What’s more, the largest police force is unable to say which stations have had their hours reduced.
“With a single police force around the corner, local stations are all the more significant as they provide an important focal point for towns and villages across the country.
“Of course, like every public service, the police are looking to save money.
“But the Scottish Government has to ensure any future closures are done in a transparent way and after proper consultation.
“Police stations play a vital role in local communities and should not be closed on a whim – the sheer number of these closures over recent years is a worrying trend that should be halted.
“This does not auger well for the introduction of the single force.”