Highlands & Islands

Closing police stations aim to protect officer numbers

Police jacket
Image caption Ch Supt Cowie said police would still have a presence in communities affected

Closing 16 out of 59 police stations would help Northern Constabulary avoid compulsory redundancies of officers, a senior officer has said.

Ch Supt Andy Cowie, head of support services, said the force wanted to maintain its strength of 800 officers.

Northern Joint Police Board will be asked on Friday to approve shutting the stations in Highlands, Western and Northern Isles.

Some communities affected have asked for their stations to be saved.

Hugh MacKay, a retired area commander, told the BBC Scotland news website earlier this week that stations provided an important link between police and the public.

Ch Supt Cowie said where stations were closed the force would seek to share facilities with other emergency services.

He said the proposals were among 6% real-term savings proposed for next year's budget.

'High watermark'

Ch Supt Cowie said: "We believe that the recommendations that are going forward, and if they meet with agreement from the board, then it may well be that we don't have to compulsory retire police officers.

"I need to underline that with police officer numbers, which are at an all-time high of 800, we are seeking to maintain that high watermark.

"Police officers will still be in the community, they will still be patrolling, they will still be responding to calls, but we are proposing that a small number of police stations go."

The stations that could close are in Scalloway and Dunrossness on Shetland and Stromness on Orkney.

Barvas, Carloway, Ness and Tarbert on the Western Isles could also close, as well as Broadford on Skye.

Across the Highlands, Bettyhill, Lybster, Evanton, Cromarty, Spean Bridge, Beauly, Drumnadrochit and Ardersier are also in the firing line.

Operating hours could be reduced at Lerwick on Shetland, Kirkwall on Orkney, Stornoway on Lewis, and Portree on Skye.

Also, Thurso, Alness, Aviemore, Nairn, Dornoch and Tain could also reduce hours.

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