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The review of public-counter provision is a matter for Police Scotland, which has focused its review on front-counter provision, not on stations. The closure of counters that are not widely used aims to help deliver a more consistent and professional service to the public and to enable more officers to be deployed where the public tell us that they want them, which is in our communities.
The report of the independent police commission chaired by Lord Stevens, which was published on 25 November, recognises the benefit of our reform. It states:
“The Commission recommends that the social purpose of the police should be enshrined in law ... This has recently been achieved ... in Scotland. We believe that the national statement of purpose for Police Scotland has much to commend it as a model for enacting a legislative purpose for the police in England and Wales.”
I commend that report, which was commissioned by the Labour Party.
The west of Scotland, if we include Glasgow, North Ayrshire and Inverclyde, is listed as one of the top five least peaceful areas in Scotland. If a community can put forward a compelling case for keeping a counter open, will the cabinet secretary take on board those views and listen to the opinions of local people?
The police have been doing that. Assistant Chief Constable Mawson commented today that the counter consultation had received contributions from 83 members of the public—out of a population of 5.3 million.