Local policing losing out in savings plan

I am sure that Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick and her colleagues in the hierarchy of Police Scotland do not for one minute believe that recent detrimental changes to “local policing” will result in ensuring that officers will be in “the right place at the right time to help keep people safe” (Southern, March 13).

That overworked PR soundbite is becoming as tedious as it is insincere and factually wrong.

Instructing an early-shift Hawick-based response officer to uplift a Peebles officer and proceed to provide cover in East Lothian until the arrival of backshift resources does not do a lot for the residents of Hawick or the Borders who would be inclined to believe that these officers were quite clearly “in the wrong place”.

The only area where local policing is the “cornerstone” is in the increasingly-desperate quest to make huge financial savings.

To suggest that there is now “improved access to specialist services” is the proverbial red herring as whilst there may well be occasions in major incidents or very serious crimes where such expertise (it was always available) may be more readily accessible, it will have virtually no impact upon or relevance to daily routine local policing.

The inaccurate statements flowing from Police Scotland in support of its actions is hugely worrying regarding the integrity of the new regime.

Anyone who has taken the time to view the recent Scottish Parliament justice sub-committee sessions with senior Police Scotland officers will have witnessed their frequent inability to give straight and open answers to pertinent questions and concerns posed by MSPs.

A classic example of their disregard for the consequences of their actions and the issuing of misinformation is the manner in which the withdrawal of traffic warden services was (mis) handled. It is a fact that the police traffic wardens were given multiple dates, all extended by some days or weeks at short notice, for the termination of their duties, ranging from December 2013 up to the most recently-announced April 30.

When Chief Constable Sir Stephen House gave the very recent commitment to maintain the existing level of police traffic warden service until “at least 30th April”, was he not aware that in the Borders one warden had already terminated duty on voluntary redundancy some weeks before, another was due to terminate imminently on redundancy and the remaining warden was also due to be made redundant before the “commitment date” of April 30?

A worthless commitment and in no way sincere or solid, but one that typifies the arrogant, bungling and inept manner in which Police Scotland has gone about their business since last April.

Quite clearly Police Scotland is treating the whole exercise as a commercial/business proposition and completely (perhaps conveniently) overlooking the fact that what the public require is a police service”.

Yes, there are aspects within the police service that can be administered on a strict business model, but the provision of effective local response policing can not, and local policing facilities should not be battered into submission just to fit a financial agenda.

James Dewar

Paterson Street