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Police counter closures confirmed

Public access to some police station counters will be restricted at the start of next month.

Police Scotland confirmed it is bringing in changes on March 3 across the country's 214 stations, following a controversial consultation.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House originally considered closing public access at 65 stations but the number has reduced to 61.

Although some communities are losing their public counter provisions, others will have longer opening times.

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said local policing "remains the bedrock" of the new national service.

"We have listened to all the views put forward and made changes to reflect this but an effective, modern policing service must evolve to reflect the communities we serve," he said.

"These changes allow us to ensure more of the right people with the right skills are available at the right time and in the right places to serve communities in a manner that reflects the way people now live their lives."

Local policing has been enhanced, a new 101 non-emergency number is in place, appointments can still be made in stations where public access is restricted, he said.

Station counters which will now not close are in Stromness, South Queensferry, Linlithgow and Tranent. Counters with longer hours than previously suggested include Banchory, Dumbarton and Mallaig.

The Scottish Government was criticised by opposition politicians for the overhaul.

Scottish Labour MSP Graeme Pearson said: "This announcement will be a bitter blow for the 61 communities which will now no longer have easy, face-to-face contact with their local police officers.

"I'm pleased that through our campaigning and the campaigning of many others, we've managed to save at least some from total closure.

"The single police force was meant to boost support for our bobbies on the beat. Instead, under the SNP, the concept of local policing is fading."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie criticised the Justice Secretary.

"In the space of less than one year, Kenny MacAskill has taken a wrecking ball to local justice," he said.

"Frontline police and fire control rooms are being shut, 26 local courts are being closed, police counters are closing their doors to the public, stop and search numbers have rocketed and fundamental pillars of our system such as corroboration are set to be carelessly ripped out of legislation.

Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont said: "The Scottish Government had the power to intervene on this, but both Kenny MacAskill and (First Minister) Alex Salmond have slumped back and watched it happen.

"The decision is highly regrettable, and not one that anyone who supported the creation of Police Scotland could have foreseen."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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