Selkirk’s MP and MSP have reacted angrily to the confirmed closure of the police counter service in the town.
Police Scotland confirmed there will be no public counter provision in a third of all Border police stations – in Selkirk, Melrose, Lauder and Coldstream – from March 3.
In its place, a spokesperson explained: “Members of the public will still be able to meet with police officers at stations with no public counter provision, but are requested to call 101 first, the Police Scotland non-emergency number, to ensure someone is available to meet them.”
Police stations elsewhere in the Borders will be open seven days a week in Hawick (7am to midnight) and Galashiels (8am to 6pm), and Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm in Jedburgh, Kelso, Peebles and Duns.
But a “disappointed” Michael Moore MP, who had campaigned against the closures beside fellow Lib Dem Jim Hume MSP, said: “This is the wrong decision, and is part of an increasingly obvious centralisation agenda that is not good for the Scottish Borders.”
He added: “Police Scotland are pressing ahead with the closures without much public engagement or a proper explanation of what alternatives the public have to using the police counter; such as the 101 service for non-emergency calls, which many people either have not heard of or do not feel comfortable using.
“Taking police counters away from communities without engaging with them fully on the alternatives available may lead to people feeling isolated in the event of needing the police.”
Fellow campaigner John Lamont, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, also described the decision as “disappointing”, “galling” and “retrograde”, arguing it would harm local towns and villages.
He commented: “Despite some of the data used to back up the closures being out of date or flawed, the proposals were approved.
“It just goes to show that as suspected, the consultation exercise was merely Police Scotland going through the motions.
“Borders residents are right to expect better than this from their police force, but instead they are now going to be made to suffer as they will lose the chance to interact with their local policemen and women.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this is a retrograde step that will do nothing to improve the public’s confidence in the safety of our streets.”