THE future of a busy Glasgow police station is hanging in the balance after its front counter was closed due to budget cuts.

Police Scotland took the decision to shut the public desk at its office in Baillieston’s Buchanan Street on Friday - and have come under fire from politicians about the way the move has been handled.

Force bosses admitted today that a consultation process will be launched in the coming weeks to decide whether the station is to be retained and that a reduced service to people walking in off the street is now in place as they review the policing estate across the city.

The move follows the centralisation of several smaller stations and the widespread closure of many public counters across the country as Police Scotland looks to balance its books.

However Labour MSP Pauline McNeill says she will be pressing for the Baillieston cut to be reversed after hitting out at the lack of information that preceded the decision.

She insists local politicians were left in the dark and says she has since been contacted by a number of constituents furious at the move.

Glasgow Times:

She told the Glasgow Times: “Having spoken to Police Scotland, I was assured that this is a temporary closure of the public-facing front desk and that the station remains operational.

“This is a move which has been made necessary by staff moving on. Moving forward I will be pressing them to make sure that the position is filled and that the station is fully reopened to the public as soon as possible.”

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One Baillieston resident, who does not wish to be named, says that the station is vital to providing public reassurance and a police presence in the community.

The man, who has lived in the area for over 20 years, added: “This is a classic case of putting cost cutting measures ahead of safety. It’s ridiculous that folk living here can no longer walk into their local station and report a crime.

“It sends out the wrong signals and leaves people doubting whether we will even have a station here in the future. It’s vital for our community and allowing people to have a face-to face conversation with officers.

“It just seems that saving cash is deemed more important than the safety of our community. People here deserve better.”

However, a spokesman for Police Scotland says that reducing the front counter service will mean more officers are available for local patrols.

He added: "No decision has been taken as to the future of Baillieston Police Station and a consultation process will be conducted before this is made.

“There is currently a reduced front counter service as we seek to maximise officers being available to the front line to keep people safe and ensure policing continues to address harm and protect the vulnerable.”

“Hard choices are being taken to deliver effective policing and areas which encounter the greatest demand and which carry the greatest risk in keeping people safe are being prioritised to ensure we continue to deliver an effective policing service across Greater Glasgow.

“To continue to deliver policing within our allocated budget, we are reviewing the policing estate across Greater Glasgow."

Glasgow Shettleston MSP John Mason says he feels any strategy that allows for more officers to be active on the beat should be explored.

He added: “It is good to have police based in the local area so that they can be available quickly if needed.

“However, at the same time, I do accept that most people phone the police these days if they have a problem so fewer people actually need to go into a station in person. I would certainly rather have police officers out and about in the community than sitting behind a desk.

“Budgets are very tight these days so every part of the public sector needs to look carefully at how it is spending money and whether they can do things more efficiently.”