POLICING IN MORAY and Aberdeenshire is to be jointly managed with Aberdeen City from the start of next year from a headquarters in Aberdeen.
Extensive consultation with communities throughout the north east has resulted in the two existing north east division being brought together. It has not yet been decided who the overall commander of the new joint force will be.
In a letter issued to community representatives this week, Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson, who is divisional commander of the current Aberdeenshire and Moray force, said that the new joint division will come into being on January 1.
Chief Superintendent Thomson said: “We have recommended to the Force Executive that the decision be made to join the Divisions, which has been supported.
“I can confirm that 1 January 2016 has been agreed for implementation of the North East Division, also to be known as A Division, for which the headquarters will be based at Queen Street, Aberdeen. A decision on the Local Policing Commander will be made in due course in line with established protocols.
“The overwhelming feedback to our consultation was positive, but we recognised and listened to a number of issues that were raised throughout that consultation period.”
During the consultations local community leaders expressed concerns over the effect the joining of the two forces might have on local policing.
Addressing those, the Chief Superintendent said that there would be no change to local area command structures, adding: “We remain committed to local policing and have committed throughout that our intention is to make no change to the Local Area Command structures, at Chief Inspector rank, and their teams.
“We also remain committed to ensuring our existing policing plans are relevant to community concerns.
“We would also wish to highlight that performance reporting against the plans will be still be done at a Local Authority level – we remain confident that the creation of the North East Division will enhance the focus on local policing priorities.”
Last night Moray Councillor Douglas Ross, a member of the Police and Fire scrutiny committee, expressed his disappointment at the decision.
He said: “I have always been opposed to this move and on the local Police and Fire scrutiny committee a number of members raised concerns but these clearly were not enough to prevent this merger of divisions. We now have a policing area the same size of the former Grampian area which had a Chief Constable, a Deputy and two Assistant Chief Constables now led by two Chief Superintendents. In all likelihood this will move to just one Chief Superintendent covering this vast area.
“We are told the divisional headquarters will be based Aberdeen City Centre, so they have not even tried to have the base it in the geographical centre of the new division.
“My greatest worry, however, is a diminution of the focus on local policing in Moray. We have to ensure that our voice is heard and heard loudly but I think that could be more difficult given we are further away from the divisional base and there is no doubt that policing the Aberdeen city centre is very different to policing in the centre of Elgin and the many different towns and villages in Moray.
“We have seen many times that Police Scotland implements a one size fits all policy, often based on a Glasgow model. I can’t see a move to a bigger division doing anything to strengthen our local policing or scrutiny here in Moray but as is often the case what Police Scotland wants, Police Scotland gets. I only hope our local officers and communities don’t suffer from this move.”