A POLICE force is facing criticism after it looks to fit new intruder alarms to more than a dozen stations.
Officials at Strathclyde Police are also asking if there is someone else who can “operate and maintain a 24 hour emergency response facility” for police stations.
The force will spend nearly £105,000 to have the new security measures put in place in a bid to halt break-ins at unmanned or reduced-service offices.
Over a dozen stations are set for the upgrades with most offices being in isolated locations such as Dailly and Lesmahagow.
But the police station in Glasgow’s notorious Easterhouse, where recent stats show there are nearly 20,000 cases of violence and 8,000 car thefts per year, is also scheduled to get the anti-intruder systems.
The spending was revealed on a tender notice for the contract, and the Scottish Conservatives said the money would be better spent on keeping stations open for longer.
The force said the alarms are not linked to station closures despite the nearly all of them will going in unmanned or reduced service stations.
They also claimed there is no danger of unmanned offices being broken into.
Strathclyde Police became an international laughing stock after an incident in April 2011 involved a police office in Uddingston being broken into by thieves who made off with radios and uniforms.
Robert Paul Reyes, a media commentator in America, blasted the “incompetence” of Uddingston police for being the victim of the break-in.
He said: “A police station should be impregnable and at no time should it be unmanned. The audacity of the burglars is matched only by the incompetence of the police.”
Campaign group TaxpayerScotland said the security measures, which are part of a three-year contract, are causing more problems than they are solving.
Eben Wilson, director for TaxpayerScotland, said: “The real irony is that having reacted to spending cuts by reducing an overnight presence in police stations they are now faced with protecting them at great expense.
“They have lost out both ways.”
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont described the works as being ironic in what the police are hoping to achieve.
He said: “It is surely a great irony that in these times of tight budgets the police are spending thousands of pounds on alarms and panic buttons for stations that will no longer be manned.
“The public will rightly question why such funds are not being used instead to keep police stations open to the public where possible.
“The Scottish Conservatives helped to put 1,000 extra officers on the frontline and it’s vital the police continue to have face-to-face contact with the public.”
Strathclyde Police say that a permanently unmanned station does not count as a closure because it will still be used as “an operational base for police officers”.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “We are a large organisation that provides a hugely important service to the public.
It is important that when the public need us that we are there for them.
“We always need to make sure then, that we have our resources in the right place at the right time.
“Over the past few months we have been looking at all of our stations to try and understand how they are being used and when they are being used.
“We are now consulting on the results of our findings. No matter what changes are agreed, we will always make sure that the public can speak to their police in a variety of ways – be it face to face, by phone or, as we have recently stated, through social media.”
Strathclyde Police were unable to comment on the alarm installations.
Three months ago it was revealed that Strathclyde Police also splashed more than £200,000 on heaters across just three different stations in order to provide prisoners with cosier cells.