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30/01/14 20:28

Police and fire control rooms

Proposals will protect frontline services and communities.

Responding to police and fire rescue service proposals on the future of fire control room services considered and approved by the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board today, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

"To protect our communities and save lives it’s vital that our emergency services have the sophisticated systems, expertise and equipment to ensure every community across Scotland receives the highest quality of service as quickly as possible - but we have every sympathy with all of the staff affected by these changes.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service reduced control rooms from eight to three in 2004. Since then, more lives have been saved with response times for serious calls improving from 8.6 to 6.5 minutes despite a 20 per cent rise in demand. The geographical location also has no impact the emergency response. The fire control room in Johnstone already covers over half of rural and urban Scotland including the islands and Gaelic speaking communities with the same level of service.

“The business plans considered by the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Fire and Rescue Board were based on detailed work by police and fire services and approved after close consideration and thorough scrutiny. Both services will ensure staff are offered alternative posts, retraining, voluntary redundancy or early retirement packages. There will be no compulsory redundancies and each organisation will do all it can to ensure those who want to stay do so, retaining even more vital knowledge.

“It’s important to remember that these changes are being made to protect local services and ensure we can continue to have high levels of frontline officers protecting communities across the country. You only need to look south of the border to see UK Government plans will see the loss of over 15,000 police officers and where 10 fire stations have closed this month in London alone. We will not allow that to happen. In Scotland, crime is at an almost 40 year low, and house fires are at their lowest levels since records began. Even with huge cuts to our budget from Westminster, reform is allowing us to continue to invest, ensuring 1,000 extra police officers to keep our communities safe.”

Notes to editors

In Aberdeen, Police Scotland’s National Energy Industry Liaison Unit is being developed to create a centre for excellence for working with the oil and gas industry to coordinate and manage events and incidents in Aberdeen, the North East and the North Sea with the potential for more jobs.

New police stations are also being built across the area - Tomintoul is due to open at the end of April, Laurencekirk will open this summer, and both Kittybrewster and Torry police stations are being enhanced, with new custody facilities and additional space for community officers respectively.

The decision to close the Aberdeen control room opens the way for that building to be used to house the new Service Delivery Area HQ for the Northern Region – whilst the Northern Fire Investigation Unit, which previously served only the Grampian area but now covers the whole of the North of Scotland, will remain in Aberdeen and be expanded to meet demand.

Inverness and Highlands
Inverness police control centre will expand to become the new National Control Centre for Scotland become the hub for major incidents and events. Support services from other parts of the country will move to the new hub potentially increasing staff numbers of 47 by 10-20 per cent.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is set to invest £2m in a new Asset Resource Centre housing specialist facilities for vehicles, equipment and IC, and there will be additional posts in community and fire safety work going forward creating around 20-25 fulltime posts.

Inverness is also the home of a new Flood and Water Rescue capability based in the city – providing support to the whole of the north of Scotland.

Dumfries fire control is receiving, on average, five calls a day with police receiving fewer than 30 – less than two per cent of the daily average.

Police Scotland are investing in local policing across Dumfries and Galloway. As well as upgrading Sanquhar Police Station, they are also making improvements and upgrading to Loreburn Street Police Station and considering future options for shared facilities in Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright and Gretna.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is retaining significant search and rescue facilities including two specialist water rescue units – one at Newton Stewart, the other in Annan.