NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Police Scotland control room closure plans to continue

M9 car crash victims
Image caption John Yuill and Lamara Bell lay for three days in a crashed car

Police have confirmed they are continuing with plans to close control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness.

But the original timescale, which envisaged the closures taking place by the end of 2015, has slipped.

Calls have been made by Opposition MSPs for the work on the reorganisation to be postponed pending a review of the way calls to police are handled.

The review, by HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS), is due to report in October.

The closure of the Aberdeen control room was originally scheduled to be completed the previous month.

But a north-east MSP has said the programme, which has already seen control rooms in Dumfries, Stirling and Glenrothes closed, should be halted until the HMICS review is published.

It was ordered following the deaths of two people in a car crash on the M9 in Stirlingshire on July 6, and will examine the case for shutting regional control centres.

Although the incident was reported to police at the time, officers only attended the scene three days later after a second call from a different person.

John Yuill, 28, was found dead and 25-year-old Lamara Bell critically injured. She later died in hospital from injuries including broken bones and kidney damage caused by dehydration.

The initial call had been handled by the Bilston Glen call centre which takes calls from Central Scotland and Fife following the closure of Stirling and Glenrothes.

'Absolutely unacceptable'

Lewis Macdonald, Labour MSP for north-east Scotland said the programme of closures - which has already seen a number of skilled staff leaving Aberdeen - should be halted by police until after HMICS has reported.

He said: "It would be absolutely unacceptable for them to continue with the closure plans while the decision is being looked at and while the future delivery of police control rooms across Scotland is under review.

"So I hope that we will hear from Police Scotland very, very shortly to the effect that they will take no steps leading to the closure of the Aberdeen control room, the service centre which answers 101 calls in Aberdeen or indeed the control room in Inverness.

"Because it is quite clear the local knowledge that is accumulated in these control rooms cannot be replicated, will be lost if they close and will simply heap further pressure on the control rooms in the Central Belt."

In a statement Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson, commander of Police Scotland's C3 Division which is developing the control room reorganisation, said: "We remain committed to the C3 change programme and are in discussion with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA)."

A police spokesman said any decision on closures would have to be ratified by the SPA, which oversees the single police force.

It said the original timescale was now unlikely to be adhered to.

A spokesperson said: "Consultation with staff has not started yet. The timeline over the coming months needs to allow both proposals from staff via official consultation and any key findings from the HMICS work to be considered, before any final decisions are made."

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