West End councillors Fraser Macpherson and Michael Crichton have today expressed their deep concern at Police Scotland proposals to close the Ryehill Police Station in Pennycook Lane in their ward area and other proposed closures in Dundee.
The possible closure recently announced by Police Scotland would also potentially see the Hilltown and “Dundee Annexe” to the Bell Street Police HQ adjacent to the Dudhope Roundabout in Dundee close, along with another 26 police stations across Scotland.
Councillor Macpherson said, “I have a feeling of déjà vu about the proposed closure of the Ryehill Police Station as I helped to run the successful 2016 campaign to save the West End’s only police station from closure when a previous attempt was made to close it.
“At that time, eight years ago, Police Scotland said that the station had been saved but the police service would investigate the viability of shared use. Unfortunately, little was done to do this and shared community use keeping a police presence but with other community aspects is much preferable to full closure and permanent loss of a local police station.
“I would add that having the station open for public access at some times – for example for “coffee with a cop” invitations for local residents to engage with their local police – would help.
“When the announcement of these intended police station closures was made, Police Scotland said that it was determined to continue to improve its visibility and accessibility and I simply cannot see how closing stations embedded in local communities – be that the West End or Hilltown or at many other locations across Scotland – achieves that aim.
“We really appreciate the hard work of our local police and we further believe that retaining local police stations is vital.”
Councillor Macpherson said he had been advised by the Divisional Commander for Tayside, Chief Superintendent Phil Davison, that :
“I will ensure your concerns are copied on to our national estates team as an initial indicator of concern around any potential disposal of Ryehill Police Office.
Beyond that, Police Scotland will be ensuring consultation and engagement with the public and stakeholders on a phased basis. A website area for engagement has been set up at engagement portal which went live on 14th December 2023 and this can be accessed by the public, stakeholders and staff. The outputs and views from the consultation will help Police Scotland to best understand needs and views of the public and stakeholders and how these can best be met within budgetary and resource capabilities, with constant focus on our local policing delivery models to ensure that the needs and expectations of our communities continue to be met.
An overarching National Conversation is the first phase of consultation, seeking views on Police Scotland’s Estate Strategy a number of years since its launch to check how changes over the last few years are being experienced by communities. This consultation is accessible via a National Conversation about our estate link.
In terms of specific local consultation relative to each of the 29 buildings projected nationally as being subject of potential for disposal, these will be individually consulted upon, both via a consultation platform link, but also with bespoke local engagement. You can access the link for local consultation on each building at https://consult.scotland.police.uk/strategy-insight-and-innovation
What I would highlight with this is that the local consultations are being phased over the next year as buildings come closer to being considered for potential disposal. At this time Ryehill has not been opened up for local consultation with not likely to move to formal consultation until some stage from around middle of this year. We will ensure that local consultations are signposted to stakeholders and the public when they go live to make sure we maximise engagement and views in respect of each one.
Councillor Michael Crichton added, “Our local police do an excellent job and to be frank the possible disposal of local police stations is not the fault of Police Scotland but the direct result of the poor budget decisions of the SNP Scottish Government.
“Policing’s funding allocation for this financial year 2023-24 was a real terms reduction, meaning more than £50m of savings have been required to ensure a balanced budget.
“Police Scotland has been clear that hard choices were necessary and it has been required to reduce its budgeted officer establishment by over 600 officers. The possible loss of further police stations is another sad outcome of the bad budget decisions of SNP ministers.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP has said the closures would be a “hammer-blow” for community policing in Scotland. He added :
“These closures will be yet another blow to community policing for a service that is being forced to take extremely tough decisions.
“While the police will always have operational decisions to take about which parts of their estate are fit for purpose and have a role to play in the future, it would be utterly naive to pretend that budget decisions made by SNP ministers have not played a significant part in leading the service down this road.
“From cuts to capital budgets to the government's failure to get to grips with the presence of dangerous concrete, the police are facing up to having to do more with less.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see a properly resourced police service that is ready and able to operate in communities across Scotland."