A call is being made for Police Scotland to extend the public desk at a Moray police station to seven days a week in the face of closures and reduced hours at many police stations.
Labour MSP David Stewart has said that the current 40 opening hours a week at Forres Police Station is not sufficient when compared to similar stations at Nairn and Buckie.
Mr Stewart says the geographic area being covered from Forres is the same as Nairn, which is open 119 hours each week, and Buckie where the public office is open for 70 hours.
The MSP is asking what might happen if someone was walking in Grant Park – on the very doorstep of the police station – and find a wallet full of cash.
He said: “At the moment they have to travel to Nairn, 16 miles away, to hand it in because the public counter, which is only a stone’s throw away, would be closed.
“The other alternative is that they telephone 101 and ask a front-line officer to come and collect the wallet. This, in my view, would be a retrograde step as we would be expecting police officers to start doing something they stopped years ago when police support staff were brought in.”
From March 3 several public offices at local police stations are to be closed completely including the office at Fochabers.
Mr Stewart said he understood that Police Scotland had to make efficiency savings – but insisted that they still had to provide a public service.
However, the MSP’s calls were rejected by Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson, who insisted that the benefits of the single force were already being felt throughout Scotland with local policing “wherever possible” and national “whenever necessary”.
He said: “The review of public counters has contributed to this with Police Scotland committed to maximising police officers on the street.
“We have listed to all the views put forward and made changes to reflect this but an effective, modern police service must evolve to reflect the communities we serve.”
An online petition has been raised for an increase in public desk opening at Forres.