How local is local, was the question Bo’ness councillor Lynn Munro had for Falkirk’s police at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s external scrutiny board.
She wanted to know why someone going a police station in Bo’ness ended up “speaking to someone in Edinburgh” when they tried to get in.
“Everyone I speak to raises this question. It affects people’s confidence – we’ve got this police station but there’s no-one in it,” she told senior cops including Falkirk Area Commander Damian Armstrong.
But Chief Inspector Armstrong said that having no-one behind a desk in a police station was a better use of limited resources and freed up an officer to be out in the community.
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He said: “It’s a real struggle for us because I want my officers to be out in the community. We’re not always able to be on the front counter and that’s because many are out on the front line doing foot work.”
However, he reassured Councillor Munro that any calls and concerns would be dealt with quickly and encouraged people to phone rather than pop in to a police station.
“We have a group of 14 officers in our Public Service team, many of whom are on restricted duties for a variety of reasons but they are still very experienced with extensive knowledge and they can take calls.
“It’s a very effective and efficient way of dealing with the calls.
“I have to juggle the demand with the number of officers I have and in Bo’ness there are community officers, and there are school-based officers,
“However, there is always room for improvement and it’s good to get feedback.”
Bonnybridge councillor David Grant told police that people were asking him why there are no community police on a Sunday.
CI Damian Armstrong told Councillor Grant this was also a question of resources.
He said: “The police are needed at night to support the nighttime economy, they are needed in the morning to patrol, they attend community councils in the evening.
“We have to look at the balance of officers we have and what we have is the optimal shift pattern.”
But he assured residents that if there were any particular issues around a Sunday they could expect a quick response.
“We can always have vehicles be available in the area if there is a problem.”