South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called for a “fairer distribution” of specialist police jobs, after proposals were recently revealed by Police Scotland to axe a Police surveillance unit from Dumfries and Galloway.
During First Ministers Questions in the Scottish Parliament today (6 February) the local MSP raised concerns with Nicola Sturgeon over the plan to move the jobs in the unit to the central belt, despite Dumfries and Galloway being the “gateway” to Scotland and “on the front line” in the battle against drugs.
Colin Smyth told the Scottish Parliament the region had already been hit hard by cuts in police jobs and centralising.
Colin Smyth told Parliament, “Dumfries and Galloway was the first region to lose its police control centre with the loss of 34 jobs when Police Scotland was established.
“If you walk the corridor of the Police Scotland headquarters in Dumfries, you’re not going to bump into many people because so many local support jobs have been axed”.
“Now we hear that the axe is about to land on the local surveillance unit, with yet more jobs being centralised, taking away from a region that is the gateway to Scotland and the frontline in the battle against drugs”.
“Why is the First Minister’s message to young people in my region that if you want a career in Police Scotland that you need to move out of the area and into the cities?”
“Surely any definition of a national police force needs to include that force having a fair distribution of specialist jobs in every part of Scotland”.
“First Minister, is the South of Scotland not part of your Scotland?”
In response to the question, the first Minister said she trusted Police Scotland to “make the right decisions on deployment of resources”.
Speaking after the exchange Colin Smyth added, “It is deeply disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon just doesn’t understand that so many police jobs have been axed in Dumfries and Galloway or centralised to the cities and it’s even more disappointing that she clearly doesn’t care. The centralisation of policing in Scotland has gone on far too long. It’s time we had a fairer distribution of police jobs to every part of Scotland not just the central belt.”