Police Scotland has decided to reduce opening hours and close police counters across the country, with 65 of Scotland’s 215 stations to stop offering police counter provision. Both the West End (Partick) and Maryhill police stations have been earmarked to close their doors after midnight, while Anderston police station on Argyle Street, already operating on a 9-to-5 schedule, will be shut completely, meaning the two police stations nearest to Glasgow University will now be inaccessible to the public between midnight and 7am.
The only two remaining 24-hour police stations in Glasgow will be the ones in Govan and the City Centre, while the control centre on Pitt Street handling 999 emergency calls also faces the axe.
Labour MSP and former police officer, Graeme Pearson, hit out at the closures and shortening of opening hours: “Our communities need a point of contact to report their concerns and these steps will seriously undermine that access.”
The plans to cut the service come six months after the SNP government merged regional police bodies into the nationwide Police Scotland in order to standardise their practice and save £1.7bn. It also comes just nine months since the highly publicised series of attacks that took place on Great Western Road, Argyle Street and Kersland Street.
However, violent crime rates are currently at a record low in Maryhill, an area previously notorious for crime and where Murano Street Student Village is situated. This is widely credited to police surge tactics in the last twelve months that had already been successfully employed in the East End.
The lack of calls at police stations after midnight was also cited as good reason to go ahead with the closures by First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond told First Minister’s Questions that: “The front counters in 31 of the 65 stations where the counter is to close received less than five visits a day from the public for core business. Many are receiving an average of less than one a day.”
The ability of police to maintain high levels of safety in the West End – the busiest police beat outside the City Centre – has been brought into question, however, after the news that none of the area’s stations will stay open 24-hours a day.
Louise Graham, SRC Vice President of Student Support said: “The closure of the local police stations is concerning as it reduces the provision of police services in the area.”
She was confident, however, that student safety would not be seriously affected when she went on to say: “Students should become aware of other police stations in the area, primarily City Centre Police Station.
“There is little difference in the distance between the City Centre Police Station and the West End Police station from campus.
For those living further away from the City Centre than Hillhead, for example in Partick and Maryhill, the distance to the City Centre police station on Stewart Street is a lot more significant.
Graham reminds students that the University’s campus security can arrange for a taxi for students wishing to report a crime at any time of night, whether or not they have any money on them. Students do not have to be on campus to use this service, which is strongly recommended over walking alone to the City Centre station. The phone number for campus security is 0141 330 4282. Police can also be contacted in non-emergency situations by dialling 101.
The SRC stated that: “We believe it is important to keep students informed of all issues relating to safety so we will be alerting students to this closure and will make students aware of the alternative services mentioned.”
The full list of Glasgow stations to close after midnight is as follows: Baird Street, Cathcart, Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Gorbals, London Road, Maryhill, Pollok, Pollokshaws, Saracen, Shettleston and West End (Partick).