The Church of Scotland has expressed “strong concerns” over plans by Police Scotland to cut funding to alcohol support services in Aberdeen.
Negotiations are on-going with Alcohol Support Ltd that would see the force no longer providing its share of funding for the charity’s Designated Place (DP) as of April 16 next year.
The DP, at Dee Street, is the only centre in Scotland where police can take people who are drunk and incapable to dry out until they are sober enough to go home.
It receives £356,000 in funding between Police Scotland and the NHS.
But major budget cuts instigated by the police could meant the force will no longer provide its share.
The clerk to the Presbytery of Aberdeen, Rev Dr John A Ferguson, said he was “very disappointed” at the proposal as it could “drain” NHS resources.
He said that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s accident and emergency ward currently had enough to cope with and that two police officers would have to stay with each individual until they were seen.
A short handover at the DP means the officers are back on duty quickly.
Mr Ferguson said that if the facility continued with only the funding of the NHS, it would only be able to be run at weekends.
“As a church we recognise the good will of all charities. We have a strong connection over many years with Alcohol Support are very disappointed at the decision to withdraw funding.
“It is an important service that deals with the drunk and disorderly. We feel that using A&E services instead of the Designated Place will accrue more of the police’s time and cause an unnecessary drain on NHS resources. It’s not a sensible thing to do.”
A police spokeswoman said discussions were still on-going and that “no final decision” had yet been made.
Brian Cowie, Service Manager, of Alcohol Support Ltd, said that the DP and its opening hours would have to be significantly reduced if funding is cut.
He said: “Negotiations are still ongoing. However, if we are only going to get half of our funding we would not have what is needed to continue with our current service.”