A ROW erupted yesterday after it was revealed the police divisional HQ in Old Perth Road is to close to the public – as suddenly as Tuesday.
The majority of anger was centred on there being no public consultation or announcement on the decision from Police Scotland.
The Highland News only learned of the bolt from the blue move when two members of the public got in touch.
The building is already closed to the public outwith office hours with a phone link to the city’s other cop shop in Burnett Road.
Duncan MacPherson, chairman of Cradlehall and Westhill Community Council, said the move echoed Police Scotland’s decision to close Culloden police station last May without any notice.
He said: “The first we knew was when the signs disappeared.
“I find the lack of consultation alarming. In the past when stations such as Beauly were earmarked for closure there was public engagement. It is just the disregard they have for the Highland people that annoys me.
“Why would they suddenly close or reduce the service there? If the number of public visits went down surely they could say so? But no, it is just presented as a fait accompli.
“This follows hot on the heels of the Culloden closure when there was a similar disregard for local opinion in a large housing area that has its share of vandalism, graffiti and speeding cars.”
Inverness South Lib Dem councillor Carolyn Caddick said: “When someone told me this was happening I was very surprised, because as a councillor in that area I thought I would have been informed.
“It seems to be one of Police Scotland’s operational decisions that they have failed to consult or communicate to the local public. They don’t appear to be accountable or responsible locally anymore.”
She added: “I do know that people use the building for several reasons including for gun licensing.
“We keep losing jobs to the central belt such as our control room closures. Jobs are bleeding away from the Highlands and it breaks my heart.”
Former Highland cop John Finnie, now a Green MSP, said: “If this is true then it is deeply disappointing and shows that Police Scotland have learned little about community engagement in the Inverness area.
“It is not as if the alternative at Burnett Road is particularly accessible. I think it is a failing not to have consulted with the public and as such, I will raise it with the chief constable.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart said a worried constituent had approached him about it.
“The police are saying that the HQ is not a public office but an administrative office, but in practice people do tend to pop in there looking for advice or to give information,” he said.
“It is worrying that the doors will no longer be open and that this resource will no longer be available to the public in the future.
“With all the changes in the police service throughout Scotland, it does set alarm bells ringing about what comes next and I’ll be writing to Philip MacRae, the area commander, to find out more.”
Police Scotland stressed it would be wrong to refer to the move as a closure because the office had never been an operational building.
Ch Supt Philip MacRae said: “The office at Old Perth Road is an administrative building which services the management functions of the Highlands and Islands Division of Police Scotland and also provides staff office accommodation.
“This office provides no operational contact for the public who continue to access policing services through our operational station at Burnett Road and through direct telephone contact using the 101 and 999 systems.
“Should any member of the public attend this office seeking an operational police response, the existing provisions for contacting the area control room which currently operate at the building will continue. There will be no change or impact to the service provided to members of the public as a result of access to this administrative base.”