Alarm bells ring over cop shop cull

I WROTE some months back about the SNP ­Government's decision to close police stations across Scotland, including a number in Glasgow.

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It turns out that the scale of the problem is much worse than anyone thought at the time.

While the first port of call for most people reporting crime is the phone, there is no doubt that being able to visit a police station to speak to an officer face to face is important.

Living almost next door to a police station, I see just how busy it can be and I appreciate the fact that it's always there if something happens to me or I see something happening to others.

So I wasn't in the least bit surprised at the outrage from communities across Scotland facing the prospect of losing their important link with the police.

Figures uncovered last week revealed the true extent of the problem.

According to the ­research, since the SNP came to power in 2007, more than 60% of police stations have closed to the public.

The figure for the former Strathclyde police region is close to this average but in some other parts of Scotland, the closures have hit more than three quarters of stations.

These closures would be bad enough if they were the only damage being done to our justice system. But sadly, they are not.

During the same period, fully one-fifth of sheriff courts have closed their doors, taking access to justice further away from communities.

Half of police control rooms are also being axed, diluting the local knowledge that is such a valuable resource in tackling crime.

The arrogant and heavy handed way in which Kenny MacAskill forced through the bill to abolish corroboration in criminal trials earlier this month simply highlights the fact that, on justice issues, the SNP refuse to listen to reason or concern.

It is no surprise that the SNP says it doesn't keep centralised figures on police station numbers, because it seems it doesn't want the public to know the full extent of its slash and burn policies.

Even the First Minister's own parliamentary aide has publicly warned that these policies are creating a distance between the police and the public, with justice being taken further and further from communities.

In 2007, there were 386 police stations across the country.

As a result of SNP Government policies, there are now just 153 stations open to serve communities across Scotland.

In the whole of the former Strathclyde police region, there are now just 13 stations which are manned 24 hours a day, down from 57 in 2007.

The SNP is more interested in ripping Scotland out of the UK than protecting communities.

Its justice policy is simply a way of centralising control in Holyrood and taking power away from local people. We deserve better.

Local government

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