POLICE in Haddington will move into the town's former courthouse within the next three years as plans to create an emergency services hub in the building get underway.

Chief Inspector Steven Duncan, local area commander, has confirmed planning for the move has begun as police and East Lothian Council, who own the building, start the process of converting the court offices.

The large court in the centre of the building will become the new operations room for police officers with other emergency services and vital council officers working in the building alongside them.

The move is intended to create a multi-agency approach which the chief inspector believes will help public services run more efficiently.

He told The Courier: "It is an exciting move forward and will allow us to work alongside other emergency services and council officers in a much more co-ordinated approach. The relationship between police and the council is excellent and this will make it a more natural fit.

"It will also allow us to have modern facilities and space for large scale briefings."

Although the former court building, which stopped operating as a sheriff court in January 2015, does have holding cells there are no plans for them to be used by police when they move in.

The building currently has a council entrance where some local authority services are provided and it is expected the marriage room will remain in use.

The move will see officers move 300ft along Court Street from the current police station, which will be put up for sale.

East Lothian Council gave its backing to the move which will see them spend an estimated £1.4million to convert the space into modern offices before leasing it to Police Scotland.

Tom Reid, the council's head of infrastructure said the project would be carried out in phases - the first one, which is expected to start early next year will see the council entrance into the building closed and all services moved to the main reception at John Muir House which will be given a major overhaul to make it more "user-friendly".

Focus will then turn to making changes to the court building itself to prepare it for its new tenants.

Mr Reid said: "The courthouse is a listed building and it is quite old so we will have to look at the changes we make carefully. It is an exciting project and is evolving as we move forward and will continue to do so."

It is expected the move will take place in 2022.