John Finnie has called on Police Scotland to drop plans to effectively merge the Argyll & West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire & Inverclyde divisions (also known as L Division and K Division) into a single command.
John is a former police officer and a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice and Policing Committees. He criticised the proposal as centralisation that would undermine the cause of community policing, saying:
“Despite saying all the right things about community policing, Police Scotland’s actions, including this proposal, tell a different story. The national service suffers from an instinct to centralisation that frustrates the public’s wish for responsive, local policing.
“This is felt particularly keenly in rural police divisions, where there are greater distances and greater diversity between communities. Throwing Port Appin in together with Port Glasgow is not a recipe for locally-sensitive decision making.
“The switch from regional police services to a national one wasn’t ideal, but was made necessary by the UK Government’s cuts to the Scottish budget. I am determined that we minimise the downsides of national policing by making sure local communities are always involved in policing decisions.
“Police Scotland recently questioned, but significantly did not deny, my revealing their plan to remove specialist Road Policing Units from 24-hour cover north of Perth.
“There have been welcome moves like the introduction of a Policing Plan for every council ward, but decisions like the Road Policing Units cuts and now this reorganisation make it feel like we are going one step forward and two steps back.
“Policing in Argyll and Bute has altered enough in recent years, and not always for the better. I think we need to take the time to reflect on the less than two years’ experience of the single service. I’d like to see a moratorium on any further change which will inevitably see rural policing lose out.
“The folk of Argyll and Bute want ‘bobbies on the beat’ that they can trust. They don’t want the policing of their communities treated like some remote table-top management exercise.”