LISTEN: Police chiefs urged to consider shared control centre in the isles
A renewed call has been made for a shared emergency control centre in the isles, weeks before a visit of Police Scotland chief Phil Gormley.
SIC councillor Jonathan Wills urged the community safety and resilience board to continue to press the case at his final meeting this morning.
The Chief Constable is set to visit Shetland next month, against a backdrop of increasing financial pressures for the force nationally.
Dr Wills also argued the point to fellow councillors, along with police, fire and ambulance officials that Lerwick Police Station should be open 24/7.
Chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch said Lerwick Police Station was open from 8am to 6pm and “at the moment I don’t have the resource to open any later than that.”
Officers, however were on the streets 24/7, he said and from a policing point of view it was a better use of his resources to have officers out responding to issues in the community.
A multi-agency control room would be “extremely expensive and resource intensive”, he said, with different emergency services using different systems for logging and reporting incidents.
“I sympathise with the budget constraints,” said Dr Wills though “it should not come down to a choice between a permanently open police station and a presence of officers on the street”.
“We need a 24-hour open police station, sometimes as a point of reference for people in distress,” added Dr Wills and suggested it was perhaps time for a more unified system for logging information.
“It works in other countries and I would’ve thought it would save money.”
Board chairman Alastair Cooper said the big issue was software with emergency services using different programs.
“In practical terms we have to be honest; we are a long, long way of having a single software suite which meets all the needs of the emergency services and that to me is the biggest issue is cohabiting of services and how we bring those things together.”
Andy Cowie, assistant chief constable of Police Scotland said there was “no doubt the direction of travel in the longer term is towards more shared services and controlled rooms”, though it was a case of the emergency services getting their houses together first and “we have to be pragmatic”.
Chief Constable Gormley was “absolutely committed to localism” and “what fits for Shetland, fits for Shetland, never mind what fits for Glasgow or Edinburgh.”
Later on the assistant chief constable presented an award to the local Police Scotland Youth Volunteers for winning the bronze medal in a national competition.
Mr Cowie paid tribute to the hard work of the volunteers in winning the award. The youngsters’ efforts were co-ordinated by PC Carole Smith.
• More in next week’s Shetland Times