Published: 04/03/2014 09:34 - Updated: 04/03/2014 09:43

Fochabers Police Station public counter closes

THE public counter at Fochabers Police Office has closed.

Fochabers no longer has a public counter service at its police station.

The move comes despite a local campaign to retain public opening times at the village station.

Local councillor Sean Morton had mounted the campaign, however, following a consultation Police Scotland followed through with the proposal to remove a counter service.

Other stations in Moray have seen reduced opening hours, including Elgin which was previously the only station with 24-hour public counter service.

Members of the public will still be able to meet with police officers at the Fochabers station if they ring Police Scotland in advance on 101.

Councillor Morton told ‘The Scot’ when the decision was first revealed: "I am of course very disappointed with the decision. This is what happens when the SNP insists on centralising our police force – villages like Fochabers lose out. I certainly did everything I could to raise the concerns of Fochabers residents, and I know that Councillor (Douglas) Ross was very vocal, too.

"At the end of the day, though, cuts are being made, and there is clearly no willingness to listen to local people, so now there is no counter service between Buckie and Elgin. That won’t just hurt Fochabers, but all of the other villages I represent."

Buckie is the only station locally which will see an increase in its opening hours, from 8am-6pm, seven days a week.

Elgin will go from 24-hour provision to 7am to midnight, seven days a week.

All other stations in Moray – Forres, Keith, Lossiemouth and Rothes – will be open to the public from 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: "Local policing remains the bedrock of the new service. The benefits of a single service are already being felt right across the country – with national specialist resource now meaning our local community team resource is further strengthened and supported.

"These changes allow us to ensure more of the right people with the right skills are available at the right time and in the right places to serve communities in a manner that reflects the way people now live their lives."

Councillor Douglas Ross, who is chair of the Moray Police and Fire Committee, said he feared that with no public counter provision at Fochabers, it will become easier to close the station in the future.

"I know Fochabers was only open a couple of days a week, but people knew they could go in and report a crime."

Councillor Ross said he was also concerned that the reduction in front counter staff at police stations across Moray and elsewhere would see police officers bogged down with more administration.

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