Published: 28/09/2017 17:07 - Updated: 28/09/2017 17:10

Highlands' 999 control room to be axed

 

Councillor Margaret Davidson has accused police of breaking promises
Councillor Margaret Davidson has accused police of breaking promises
 

 

Senior Highland councillors have said they are very disappointed by Police Scotland’s decision to axe the region’s 999 control room.

The decision was taken this afternoon at a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority in Inverness.

Councillor Matthew Reiss, scrutiny lead for Highland Council, said: "We are naturally deeply disappointed by the decisions today to close the Inverness Control Room and to spread the National Database Enquiry Unit between Inverness and Govan.

"The staff in the Inverness Control Room are extremely dedicated, skilled and experienced, and have served the Highlands and Islands well over many years.

"At least these decisions offer some certainty about their future and some hope and opportunities in terms of a new role in the national Database Enquiry Unit.

"We will not forget however that we were promised a National Database Enquiry Unit serving the whole of Scotland and an uplift in staff jobs and this promise has been broken.

"We were also told that the 14 serving officers in the control room would become additional officers in the community in the Highlands. We now hear that this additional resource will be gone within a few months as the current resource returns to establishment numbers."

He continued: "I was pleased however, to hear clear commitment to decentralisation and the need to distribute staff jobs across the country."

Council leader Margaret Davidson commented: "I welcome the fact that the concerns which have been consistently raised by the Highland Council have been acknowledged by the SPA and I do feel that we have gone a long way to drive a greater transparency and engagement.

"But I am very disappointed that we will lose our valued Control Room and that we will not get the single NDEU based solely in Inverness as in the long term commitments previously made.

"It has been made clear today that the SPA will hold Police Scotland to account for their new commitment to decentralisation, looking for timescales for actions.

"As always, actions speak louder than words and we have had too many false promises from Police Scotland."

The duties of Inverness Area Control Room (ACR) and Service Centre, will transfer to the ACR North in Dundee and call handling transferred to the Police Scotland Service Centre (PSSC).

The NDEU will support operational policing by undertaking live time database checks for frontline officers across the country 24 hours a day.

Across Scotland, 1600-2200 such enquiries are conducted each day.

Staff working within the NDEU will take on the demand for checks currently placed on area control rooms, enabling controllers to concentrate on the management of police incidents.

The NDEU proposal approved by the SPA sees 28 permanent staff posts retained in Inverness with every member of police staff affected by the closure offered a job in the new unit.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "This ensures we retain our skilled and experienced staff who will work alongside colleagues already undertaking this role in Glasgow.

"In addition, 14 police officers, currently deployed within Inverness ACR will return to operational duties in Highlands and Islands division.

"The changes taking place will provide even greater resilience in the 999 and 101 call handling service we provide the public.

"For the first time since the creation of Police Scotland, the whole country will be covered by a single police command and control system making it easier for us to respond to critical and major incidents.

"Detailed planning has already taken place to enable us to provide the necessary level of assurance to the SPA board today and these plans will now enter the final phase with a go live date confirmed by the C3 Division, subject to operational requirements."

During discussions at the board meeting at the Jurys Inn, DCC Iain Livingstone gave a further pledge on staffing: "I want to make an additional commitment today.

"As Police Scotland works through the transformation of our Corporate Services Division and our corporate support roles, we will do everything we can to decentralise these posts from the Central Belt and bring more jobs to places like Inverness, in addition to the posts we have protected at this time."

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