North MSP seeks answers from Police Scotland ACC and guarantees

23 June 2017

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant, who has been at the forefront of campaigns to stop the closure of the Police Control Room in Inverness, today met with Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins to seek reassurances from him regarding the plans for the Inverness Control Room, its proposed closure and plans for a transfer of the facility and staff to a National Database Enquiry Unit (NDEU) based in the city.

 Rhoda said ,

 “I have being doing whatever I can to persuade the Government and Police Scotland to stop the planned closure of the Police Control Room in Inverness.

"The whole closure plan has been brought about by the Governments demand for deep swinging cuts to be made at all costs without much cognisance for the service to be provided.

"I have been advised repeatedly by senior officers from Police Scotland, including temporary Chief Superintendent Philip Macrae, the then Area Commander for the Highlands & Islands, that the Inverness Control Room would change to the National Database Enquiry Unit with no staff cuts or job losses.

"Indeed I was advised there may have been job creation.

“I have since learned that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, has said the new NDEU would largely be based in Inverness and he added that Police Scotland was considering a partnership arrangement with a similar facility in Govan.

"This is the first I have heard of this and obviously I am concerned that this proposal may dilute the facility and job creation that was promised by Police Scotland in place of the Inverness Control Room.

 “ I have been advised by ACC Hawkins that Police Scotland will be proposing to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on 24 August 2017, that they make a decision to close the Inverness Police Service Centre and Area Control Room and at the same time consider their proposal to open a National Database Enquiry Unit in Inverness.

 She continued ,

“ I have been given a reassurance by ACC Hawkins that the Inverness Area Command Room staff would transfer direct to the NDEU and further advised that the Service Centre Staff in Inverness would be offered further training and the opportunity to transfer to the NDEU.

"However, if any of these particular staff wanted to take voluntary redundancy this would be considered.

 “ACC Hawkins did advise that there would indeed be a dual functioning NDEU based in Govan and admitted that he was unaware that reassurances had been given that the sole NDEU would be based in Inverness.

"However, he undertook to take this information on board as the Force made final deliberations.

 Rhoda went on to say ,

“ I was at pains to point out to ACC Hawkins that there was no valid reason as far as I could see as to why the North Area Control Room was not based in Inverness.

"That said I accepted that the decision has now been made to close this Control Room and to that end I will do all I can to make sure that there are no job losses.

"Indeed I made the point to the ACC that Police Scotland should seriously consider the migration of Police specialist teams and units to the North and the Highlands which is an area of scattered communities and less job opportunities than across the central belt."