INSPECTOR Rebus is back on the streets of Scotland in November – but he may find many real world police stations are shut for good.
Stations known to millions of Ian Rankin’s novels are set to be sold off in plans to save Police Scotland up to £18m a year.
The Fettes HQ of the former Lothian and Borders force in Edinburgh, which is regularly mentioned into the novels, is thought to be among the prime candidates. Other familiar names such as the West End and Leith stations could also face the chop.
Police Scotland was created out of eight regional forces and is said to be planning to sell surplus property not in the right location or in poor condition.
The 1970s Fettes tower block is referred to by characters in the Rebus books as “the big house”.
Rebus himself makes dozens of visits to Fettes and the real-world “Fettesgate” – a 1992 scandal in which thieves stole sensitive documents from the building after breaking in through an unlocked ground floor window – also made it into the novels.
Rankin’s 2002 novel Resurrection Men has characters refer to the building as “Rear Window.”
The most recent novel, 2013’s Saints of the Shadow Bible, even had the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders police hosting his leaving party at the station after his position was made redundant in the new force.
The West End station features in the 2004 novel, Fleshmarket Close, when Rebus is loaned to the “short-handed” station for a murder investigation.
And Leith station, the home of Rankin’s close friend Detective Inspector Bobby Hogan, is also thought to be a prime candidate for sale.
Rankin’s characters seem to agree it is somewhat worse for wear.
The novel Resurrection Men says: “Leith police station was an elderly and distinguished building on the outside, but referred to by most of its occupants as ‘the geriatric.’
DI Hogan says: “‘It’s like somebody in a care home. They might looked well enough dressed – presentable and all that – but inside, their body’s started breaking down.
“The plumbing might leak, the heart’s a bit dicky, and the brain’s given up the ghost.”
Rebus may be able to rest easy though, as there are no plans to scrap St Leonard’s Police Office – his home station and long-time stomping ground.
Rankin has previously spoken out about the change in the police structure, calling it a “pain in the arse” for him as a writer and saying that his most recent book had specifically avoided being set after the creation of the new force.
In November 2013 he said: “If you go to the old police headquarters at Fettes, it doesn’t even say police HQ or Fettes, it doesn’t say anything, because they don’t know what to call it.
“It’s just absolutely bonkers, but it’s all to save money apparently. It’s not saving my sanity.”
Police Scotland insist they “currently have no plans” to close stations in Edinburgh.