Fears are being expressed for the future of local police stations in Moray as plans are being laid to “consolidate” services throughout the North.
A review of local police stations is being included in a £1.7billion savings drive following the amalgamation of police services throughout Scotland last year.
The review was led by Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson who said: “The public access our services in many ways, but we have seen the number of people calling at public counters drop in recent years.”
With Police Scotland claiming that the review aims to provide “best value for money” critics say that any loss of face-to-face contact between the public and police officers or staff could easily damage public confidence.
The immediate effect in Moray is the proposal that counter services at Fochabers would be closed. Local councillor Douglas Ross, who is also chair of Moray’s police and fire rescue services committee, said that he feared such action was likely when he attended the opening of the new police office in Buckie.
Councillor Ross said: “I thought the new service would be allowed to bed in but now just months in we are seeing a potential for diminishing of services at Fochabers.
“The police and fire service committee was informed a consultation would take place and I would hope they will look at all the options.
“When I was at the opening of Buckie police office earlier this year I raised the question about what they were going to use the extra space for. I was told it was not to relocate officers from the likes of Fochabers – but now my suspicions have been raised.”
Included in the proposals are new 9am to 5pm opening hours for the police offices in Buckie and Forres, prompting Councillor Ross to comment: “Crime does not work 9-5pm”.