News In Focus
Empty police and court buildings spark row
Sixty police properties around Scotland are "not currently in day-to-day use", and five court buildings shut during the closure programme are still lying empty, it has been revealed.
The Scottish Conservatives obtained the information, which shows that the former sheriff court houses at Stonehaven, Arbroath, Cupar and Duns, along with the former JP court at Cumbernauld, are currently unused. The buildings, part of a series of court closures implemented between 2013 and 2015, are said to have a combined value of £1.13m.
Empty police premises comprise more than one in seven buildings in the total police estate of 412 properties.
Margaret Mitchell, Conservative convener of Holyrood's Justice Committee, said the figures showed that the closures "went on regardless, without any thought as to what to do with the buildings".
Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service, responded that the closures had achieved annual recurring savings of £1m and backlog manintenance savings of £2.8m. There were "clear disposal plans" for each of the surplus buildings.
For Police Scotland, Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Cowie commented that the service needed nbuildings that were "modern, flexible and fit for future policing across the wide range of communities we serve", and closures were about "enhancing the service we deliver – not doing less".