Concerns over closure of 140 police stations in Scotland since 2013

The figures were compiled by 1919 magazine, which focuses on justice and social affairs and is funded by the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, which represents rank and file officers, said the closures were having a “detrimental impact” on rural areas.

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He said: “Years of underinvestment in the police estate have left many police stations in a shocking state of repair.

Picture: John Devlin

“Were it not for rats, many would have no inhabitants at all.

“While we welcome new buildings and co-location with other agencies where they exist, the stark reality is that simple neglect has led to so many police stations being closed and lost forever.

“It is, of course, all too easy for the police service to remove officers from police stations in many communities and profess that they will provide the same service from a larger facility in a neighboring town or village.

“The truth however is often that the police services these communities receive is now a shadow of that which they used to.”

He added: “I have spent the past few weeks talking to members of the public, councillors, MSPs, MPs, and our own members on this very subject.

“Without exception they consider that retrenchment into more urban centers is having a detrimental impact on the policing of remote and rural areas, with many communities now not calling the police as they have little confidence of a meaningful response.

“This is a devastating assessment and officers and communities in remote and rural Scotland deserve much better.

“The vital link that once tied police officers to local communities is being systematically eroded and we will all be poorer as a result.”

In this year’s Scottish Budget, SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes froze Police Scotland’s capital funding, resulting in a real-terms cut after inflation.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene described the number of closures as a “cynical attempt to save money” by the Scottish Government, which he said had “undoubtedly made our streets less safe”.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “Scotland’s policing estate has been built up over the course of several decades and has suffered from a historic lack of investment under legacy arrangements.

“Some buildings are no longer in the right place, they are not operationally fit for purpose and not designed in a way which allows us to work alongside key delivery partners.

“We carefully consider all options regarding the use of policing buildings, including co-location or relocation and consult with a range of stakeholders and the local community.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The allocation of resources, including for the police estate, is for the Scottish Police Authority and the Chief Constable to determine.

“However, the police capital budget has more than doubled since 2017/18, supporting continued investment in the police estate.

“Police Scotland has prioritized the progress of a new and ambitious estates strategy which will lead to improvements in the operating environment for all officers and staff in line with the objective to proactively look after their wellbeing.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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