Lib Dem leader Rennie fears Police Scotland is ‘asset-stripping’



THE creation of Police Scotland has resulted in the force “taking over” the whole of the country and “asset-stripping,” the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has warned.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Willie Rennie renewed his attack on the force as is was announced police station front desks around the country would be closed.

The counter service at Oakley in Rennie’s Fife constituency will close next month, after it was announced 61 stations around Scotland will be closed to public access.

Rennie said: “We feared the centralisation of police – effectively having Strathclyde Police taking over the whole of Scotland – would result in asset-stripping of local services.

“These facilities have been built up over generations. Some may argue that they’re not as valuable as they used to be but if you get rid of these facilities they will be very difficult to recreate.

“You’ve got the withdrawal of police from front-facing connection with the community.

“Control rooms being closed down, the court service being cut in other parts of Fife.

“It’s almost like a retreat from the engagement we’ve been used to and once that’s gone it’s very difficult to get it back.”

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: “Local policing remains the bedrock of the new service.

“The benefits of a single service are already being felt right across the country with national specialist resource now meaning our local community team resource is further strengthened and supported.

“This means all areas have access to specialist expertise and equipment whenever and wherever required and can draw flexibly on extra officers and specialist skills when local demand requires it.

“We have listened to all the views put forward and made changes to reflect this but an effective, modern policing service must evolve to reflect the communities we serve.”

Police Scotland has also faced criticism over its approach to the sex-for-sale industry in Edinburgh’s saunas. After years of taking a “blind eye” approach on public health grounds, officers raided saunas last summer. The local council  also scrapped its long-established practice of licensing the saunas.