'Horrific' conditions found at police stations and police accommodation

26 April 2019, 11:38 | Updated: 26 April 2019, 12:27

Police scotland mushrooms

Two police stations should be closed immediately amid safety concerns over "horrific" conditions, the Scottish Police Federation has said.

Oban police station is "unfit for human habitation", with mould and crumbling plasterwork, while there is a rat infestation at Lochgilphead police station, a Scottish Police Federation (SPF) investigation found.

The interim report also called for police accommodation in Dunoon, Campbeltown and Lochgilphead to be closed immediately after "disgraceful" conditions were found, with mushrooms discovered growing in the shower room in Dunoon.

Officials from the SPF found dreadful conditions at several premises during a "deep dive" inspection in Argyll and Bute.

Callum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said officials found "horrific" conditions and that the issues were a consequence of "years of neglect".

He said: "Oban police station in particular has been described as the worst police station any of our officials have ever set foot in.

"This is a full-time functioning, working police station that has mould, flaking paint, it's unfit for human habitation, certainly unfit to be bringing victims and witnesses to crimes and it's absolutely unfit for bringing those that might be detained in custody into these kind of premises, not least because of the physical condition of the buildings and the very significant risks that could be presented to those that find themselves in them.

"Self-evidently these kind of issues don't appear overnight; it's apparent to us that the issues in Oban and across Argyll and Bute have been as a consequence of years of neglect, and a stark reality of a lack of capital funding available to the police service is something that we've been highlighting for many, many years."

Police officers working at Lochgilphead police station salvaged chairs from skips as their own office chairs were in such a state of disrepair, while the building was found to have damp and crumbling plasterwork, with one hole going right through to the exterior of the building.

At Lochgilphead police station, rats remain in the building despite extermination work, with SPF inspectors reporting that they can be heard in the walls and ceilings.

Officers are reluctant to drink from the water supply or eat within the building and are concerned that they are at risk of contracting leptospirosis (Weil's disease).

Mr Steele said: "The concerns are now at such a stage that they cannot be ignored any more.

"The simple reality is that the police stations, particularly in Lochgilphead and Oban, should be closed immediately for the safety of the officers that work there and any members of the public that find themselves there, and the same is true of the police accommodation in Campbeltown, Lochgilphead and Dunoon."

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: "Work was undertaken immediately to remedy a number of concerns raised by the Scottish Police Federation last week, as the safety and well-being of our staff is a priority for Police Scotland.

"A small number of officers affected by property issues raised in Dunoon have already been moved to temporary accommodation while improvement works are carried out.

"A range of options for Oban police station are being examined following HMICS recommendations last year.

"The policing estate has been built up over the last century and we acknowledge some buildings fail to match current or future needs.

"We are prioritising the capital budget we have been allocated across a multitude of competing demands to achieve as much as we can, as quickly as we can."

The SPF report recommends the SPA reviews its entire housing stock "as a matter of urgency" to ensure it is compliant with all legislative requirements.

An SPA spokesman said: "The SPA takes the health, safety and well-being of our officers and staff extremely seriously.

"Over the last year the authority has strengthened reporting on these matters to the SPA board and the chair, Susan Deacon, has prioritised working with and listening to workforce representatives on a range of issues.

"We are committed to ensuring the police service is equipped to do the job it needs to do in the 21st century and the authority will continue to make the case to the Scottish Government for greater investment to progress this aim."