Top cop counters office argument

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GALASHIELS’ senior police officer has said keeping police officers on the town’s streets is more important to him than retaining his station’s opening hours, writes Kenny Paterson.

Inspector Mike Wynne made the comments at Galashiels Community Council, while discussing the ongoing consultation which includes possible cuts to the Bridge Street facility’s public counter service.

The public are meant to be able to speak to a member of staff from 7am to 11pm Monday to Sunday. But Inspector Wynne admits staffing issues means cover has been inconsistent, and he backed the counter being operational from 9am to 7pm or 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

He told community councillors: “Our primary consideration is keeping officers on the streets and there are no proposals to change that.”

Inspector Wynne added that more people now phone the station rather than visit in person, but said the front desk is busy during the day with members of the public visiting every 15 or 20 minutes until 7pm.

Community councillor Ian Purvis commented: “I think it is vital that people do have access to officers at the busy time of the day. I spoke to an old woman at 3pm on a Saturday and she was quite upset that she couldn’t get an officer.”

Scottish Borders Councillor Sandy Aitchison warned: “There is a feeling that the single police force [approved by the Scottish Government in September and expected to become operational in 2013] will concentrate on the central belt. If we lose anything we won’t get it back. I think it is something that is just around the corner.”

But fellow SBC Galashiels councillor John Mitchell disagreed. He said: “I think it will improve the service.”

The opening hours of the Peebles station is also being considered and the station at Newcastleton will be sold.