Lessons will be learned from the controversial closure of Aberdeen’s police control room before the same decision is taken in Inverness, according to the north’s new police commander.
And Chief Superintendent George MacDonald insisted yesterday that the control room in the Highland capital would not shut unless he has been reassured that “checks and balances” were in place.
The divisional commander for the Highlands and Islands was speaking amid an ongoing row over the future of the city’s control room and plans to locate a new National Database Enquiry Unit (NDEU) in Inverness.
The north was promised the NDEU and new jobs when the control room closure was first mooted, but local politicians have been left furious by new plans to co-locate the facility in Inverness and Govan.
A decision on the proposals is expected to be taken by the Scottish Police Authority later this month.
Mr MacDonald, who previously served in Aberdeen, said: “I went through the same project in the north-east of Scotland so I’d like to think the fact that I’ve experienced it and understand it from that environment, I can take a lot here.
“There were areas where there were some learning and opportunities to do things better in the north-east. I’ve been making sure the things that can be done better on learning can be transferred to Inverness.
“The control room in Inverness won’t close until I’ve got an absolute assurance that all the checks and balances are in place.
“And the force’s executive, ACC and chief constable level, won’t sign off the transfer of the control room until they get the assurance from me. I think that’s a pretty robust process.”
He added that he had “no involvement” in the NDEU decision but that it was “positive” that no jobs would be lost in Inverness.
Critics say a loss of local knowledge is putting lives at risk, pointing to a series of examples of confusion by call handlers after the switch from Aberdeen to Dundee. In March, staff at the Tesco on Great Western Road in Aberdeen called police to report a smashed in door. However, call handlers sent police officers to an address of the same name in Glasgow.