Police merger plan ‘will have little impact’

Police Scotland is consulting on plans to merge its Argyll and West Dunbartonshire division - which includes Bute - with Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
Police Scotland is consulting on plans to merge its Argyll and West Dunbartonshire division - which includes Bute - with Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Plans to merge police services in Argyll and Bute with those in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde will have “little impact on local communities”, a senior police officer has insisted.

Chief Inspector Helen Swann, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Argyll and west Dunbartonshire, has written to Bute Community Council offering to come to the island for a presentation and discussion on the proposal.

The merger plan was announced in December and immediately attracted criticism from Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, who complained that policing in rural areas would lose out.

Chief Inspector Swann, writing to community councils across the area, says: “The proposal, which would potentially result in “L” and “K” Divisions becoming one single division, aims to strengthen local policing for the communities in the region.

“As always, the main drivers for us will be to deliver better targeted and improved access to local policing, alongside continuous improvements to the quality of the policing service whilst ensuring that the service is both sustainable and cost effective.

“The proposals will have little impact on local communities and my priority is to develop ways in which the number of officers supporting local communities can in fact be enhanced. Furthermore, the plans are aimed at removing duplication, breaking down geographical boundaries and simplifying the command structures at a senior level.”

Policing on Bute was overseen by the old Renfrewshire and Bute Constabulary prior to the establishment of Strathclyde Police in 1975.

The proposal is likely to be considered by Bute Community Council members at their first meeting of 2015, to be held at Rothesay Pavilion at 7pm on Wednesday, January 21.