Oban police station branded 'worst in Scotland'

Oban police station Image copyright Google/SPF
Image caption Holes in the wall at Oban police station

Oban police station has been branded the worst in Scotland after an inspection of police buildings.

The mould-covered property was called "unfit for human habitation" by the Scottish Police Federation, which carried out an investigation into conditions in the police estate.

It claimed the stations in Lochgilphead and Oban should be "closed immediately" over public health concerns.

Police Scotland says it was addressing the issues raised by the federation.

Image copyright SPF
Image caption The food preparation area for officers and people in custody

Officials from the SPF said they found dreadful conditions at several premises during a "deep dive" inspection of L Division, which covers Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire.

SPF general secretary Calum Steele told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's almost difficult to put into words just how horrific some of the conditions were that our officials found.

"Oban police station has been described as the worst police station any of our officials have had the misfortune of ever stepping foot in - and they have experience of the police estate across the totality of the police service of Scotland.

Image copyright SPF
Image caption In the Dunoon police accommodation, mushrooms were growing on towels which had been put down under leaking radiators

"It is a full-time functioning police station that has mould, flaking paint, and is unfit for human habitation."

He said it was not fit for bringing in victims or witnesses to crimes, or people who were being detained in custody.

He said the state of the police estate was a consequence of years of neglect, and that it was indicative of police buildings across Scotland.

Deep dive findings: Rats, mushrooms and mould

  • Officers at Oban Police Station covered holes in the building's damp walls with paper to try to improve its appearance
  • Paint work in the food preparation area, used for those in custody, covered in mould and flaking off the walls
  • Numerous "ligature points" identified within the cell area raising fears of individuals in custody harming themselves
  • Officer accommodation "similar to that supplied by slum landlords"
  • Mushrooms found growing on towels used to try to mop up water leaking from radiators
  • Officers in Campbeltown claimed they had been advised to declare themselves homeless to get priority on the council housing list
  • Lochgilphead station found to have a rat infestation originally raised by the SPF in 2017
  • Officers reluctant to drink from the water supply and could hear "critters" scurrying about in the walls and ceilings
  • Officers from the rape unit and domestic abuse unit in Clydebank forced to share just two cars between 10 staff
  • One officer claimed he had been dropped off at a victim's house before the woman had to drive him back to the station as no alternative was available
  • Offender Management Unit has access to only one dedicated vehicle to monitor more than 100 registered sex offenders in the community

Mr Steele said: "It is the stark reality of a lack of capital funding available to the police services, something that we have been highlighting for many, many years but have been facing something of a 'rubber ear' when it comes to those that we would seek to respond to the issues.

"The concerns are now at such a stage that they cannot be ignored any more."

Mr Steele is calling for the immediate closure of the stations in Lochgilphead and Oban for the safety of both officers and members of the public.

Image copyright SPF
Image caption The victim examination room was unsatisfactory

He also wants the police accommodation in Campbeltown, Lochgilphead and Dunoon to be condemned.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: "Work was undertaken immediately to remedy a number of concerns raised by the Scottish Police Federation last week, as the safety and wellbeing of our staff is a priority for Police Scotland.

"A small number of officers affected by property issues raised in Dunoon have already been moved to temporary accommodation while improvement works are carried out.

"A range of options for Oban Police Station are being examined following HMICS recommendations last year.

"The policing estate has been built up over the last century and we acknowledge some buildings fail to match current or future needs.

"We are prioritising the capital budget we have been allocated across a multitude of competing demands to achieve as much as we can, as quickly as we can."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Lochgilphead police station has been recommended for immediate closure

The Scottish government said the allocation of resources was the decision of the Chief Constable and Scottish Police Authority.

A spokesman said: "We are protecting Police Scotland's resource budget in real terms in every year of the current Parliament, delivering a boost of £100m by 2021, despite further UK government cuts to the Scottish budget.

"Now more than £1.2bn, our funding for this year includes a 52% increase in the capital budget to allow essential investment in IT infrastructure and support mobile working to enable officers to access information remotely and spend more time in communities. We continue to press the UK government for a refund of the £125m paid by Police Scotland in VAT between 2013 and 2018."

The revelations come after reports Police Scotland has more than 250 cars which are more than a decade old.

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