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Police still plan to shut Aberdeen and Inverness control rooms

A police car near to the site of the crash on junction 9 of the M9 which resulted in the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell
A police car near to the site of the crash on junction 9 of the M9 which resulted in the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell

Police chiefs have provoked anger after confirming they still plan to go ahead with control room closures in Aberdeen and Inverness despite an inquiry into the M9 crash tragedy.

Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson said the force “remained committed” to the controversial move, in the face of growing political pressure for the reorganisation to be halted.

However, the force added that the timetable for closing the call handling centres by the end of the year had slipped.

Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson said last night she was “very disappointed” that the plans had not been put on hold, and would write to Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.

A probe was ordered by ministers after a couple were found in their crashed car three days after a member of the public reported seeing the vehicle to police.

When police attended the scene John Yuill was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell, was alive but critically ill and died in hospital days later.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) set out the terms of the investigation this week, confirming it would look at the proposed changes.

However, Ms Thomson, commander of Police Scotland’s C3 Division which is developing the control room reorganisation, said in a statement: “We remain committed to the C3 change programme and are in discussion with the Scottish Police Authority.”

A force spokesman added that the timetable could be delayed, saying: “Consultation with staff has not started yet.

“The timeline over the coming months needs to allow both proposals from staff via official consultation and any key findings from the HMICS work to be considered, before any final decisions are made.”

Ms Davidson, an independent Highland councillor, said: “I am very disappointed to hear that Police Scotland have announced they are going to press ahead with the closure of Inverness and Aberdeen control rooms.

“This does not help public confidence in decisions made by Police Scotland. To continue with centralisation plans without awaiting the outcome of the review shows an unwillingness to listen and is not a welcome response.

“I have written today to the chief constable on this matter.”

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