Salmond: Bobbies on the Tweet

3 Oct 2013

Ruth Davidson MSP

Alex Salmond has backed the closure of police station front counters, insisting the public should use social media instead to report crime.

However, advice to the public on the official Police Scotland Twitter site states the site is: “Not for reporting crime.”

It comes after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson challenged the First Minister over controversial plans to close the doors of 65 police stations across the country.

The Scottish Conservatives revealed in August last year that more than 56 police stations had already been closed in Scotland under the SNP – with a further 23 having their hours reduced.

Alex Salmond today played down the significance of the public being able to walk in to their local police station to report a crime or to speak to an officer, insisting they can also contact police by phone.

But a freedom of information request shows that up to 6,000 non-emergency calls to police a month go unanswered.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:

“We know the public value having access to their local police office so they can report crime and speak to officers.

“Yet, Alex Salmond wants to close police stations off to people, which would leave places like the city of Aberdeen with just one public counter.

“The First Minister’s definition of policing seems to be that reporting a crime is now regarded as a minor matter.

“Now we know his version of community policing is having officers sit behind a computer responding to tweets or speaking to the public by phone, rather than walking the streets tackling crime.

“This is nothing but policing on the cheap from the Scottish Government.

“Alex Salmond is quick to take the credit if crime figures improve, but when police stations are closing their doors to the public across the country he simply washes his hands of the issue.”




When asked if he supports the closures of police station front desks, Alex Salmond said during First Minister’s Questions:
“………the reality in the modern world is that most police contact is by phone or online. Police Scotland have of course arranged the new 101 non-emergency number which receives 280,000 calls per month and of course their presence in the social media now has 393,000 followers.”
Police Scotland’s Twitter description:
“Official Police Scotland Twitter feed – info on policing, campaigns & our service. Not for reporting crime.”
The SNP’s own councillors are against the closure of front desk at police stations.
East Lothian Councillor Peter MacKenzie, vice-convenor of the police board, said of plans to close Prestonpans police station to the public:
“Closing counters is a way of disengaging from the public. The closure will contribute to a raising of public fear of crime.”
Part of the rationale for the closures is that few inquiries are made at public counters for what Police Scotland define as “core demands”, the remaining 90% of inquiries are deemed “ancillary demands” because they can be completed over the phone or online.
Ancillary demands include someone with an arrest warrant turning themselves in to the police or reporting a crime or vehicle incident.
See Appendix A of consultation document:
In August 2012, the Scottish Conservatives revealed that more than 56 police stations had been closed in Scotland under the SNP with a further 23 having their hours reduced.
In July 2013, figures released under Freedom of Information legislation revealed that more than 15,000 calls to the new 101 non-emergency number went unanswered in the first four months of it being rolled out. In May 2013, nearly 6,000 calls went unanswered.
The closure of 65 police station front desks has been proposed by Police Scotland: