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Emergency control room decisions due

  • 1-30-2014

Decisions are to due to be taken on plans to reduce the number of police and fire control rooms across Scotland.

Police Scotland wants to close its control rooms in Aberdeen, Stirling, Dumfries, Glenrothes and Pitt Street in Glasgow.

And the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has proposed reducing its control rooms from eight to three.

The restructurings will be discussed by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Scottish Fire Board later.

The control rooms deal with emergency 999 calls, with the police rooms also dealing with calls to the non-emergency 101 number.

Both services have argued the changes will reduce costs and improve efficiency, but the proposals have been politically controversial with campaigns being mounted in several areas, including Dumfries and Aberdeen, to save the local facilities.

Communications systems

If the SPA votes to progress the police restructuring proposals, the plans will go to a consultation.

The restructuring would see Motherwell and Govan form a West Area Control centre, with Bilston Glen near Edinburgh having responsibility for the East Command Area and Dundee the North Area Command.

A National Virtual Service Centre will be split between Govan, Motherwell and Bilston Glen.

Inverness would lose its police control room but would instead become the new hub for the command and control of major incidents and national events anywhere in the country, equipped with new communications systems.

It would also become the base for the police national computer and the criminal history database.

But Dumfries would close in April 2014, Stirling in December 2014, Glenrothes in March 2015, Pitt Street in March 2015 and Aberdeen in December 2015.

The police control rooms currently employ about 1,500 officers and civilian staff. Affected civilian staff would be offered redeployment, voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

Staff at the Dumfries control room have said they were left "in a state of bewilderment and shock" by the proposals, and warned the removal of call handlers in the area with local knowledge could cost lives.

'Considering the impact'

The 34 staff have written a joint letter to the board members and chair of the SPA, which has the authority to decide whether the proposals can be progressed.

The staff want a full public consultation to take place before any decision is made.

SPA chair Vic Emery said: "We recognise that this is a complex and sensitive proposal which has long-term implications for the organisation of policing, and the service's engagement with local communities. We have received a number of representations from staff and other interested parties since the proposals were published last week and these will inform the board's consideration of the issue.

"Before taking a decision on whether this strategic proposal is progressed, SPA members will ensure that the rationale behind this proposal is well evidenced, that the delivery plan is sound, and that the outcomes will deliver service benefits for all parts of Scotland.

"That will clearly include considering the impact of the proposals on our people, both officers and staff, and how that will be managed."

A spokesman for Police Scotland added: "If the strategic proposal about contact, command and control is progressed by the Scottish Police Authority, all staff will have opportunities to raise any issues in the full consultation that will follow."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will reduce the eight control rooms it inherited from the old regional brigades to three.

Johnstone in Renfrewshire will being retained, but board members must now decide where to site two other control rooms, with Edinburgh and Dundee expected to get the vote over Aberdeen and Inverness.

The board has said selling the buildings that currently house control rooms will raise £18m, with annual operating cost savings of a further £4.7m.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2014 BBC

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