Police stations that closed during years of austerity should be reopened to bring back confidence in law enforcement, a police and crime commissioner said yesterday.
In March the Daily Mail revealed that more than half of Britain’s police stations had closed in the past ten years.
At least 667 facilities with front counters, at which people could talk to an officer, have been shut in England and Wales since 2010 to cut costs.
Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, said that it was time to reverse the trend and reopen front counters across the country.
The force has reopened Newquay police station in Cornwall, and Miss Hernandez said there are plans to do the same at Tiverton in Devon and in five other places.
She said that the stations had been closed because few people had used them and it was difficult to persuade chief constables that having a manned counter was worth the cost of keeping them open.
‘Once a police station is closed it is flipping hard to get them reopened because we know the footfall will be low,’ she said.
‘But public confidence in policing needs to be reinvigorated and the police have to be accessible, there has to be multiple routes to the police.
‘It feels to many chief constables that there will be a low footfall so it’s a waste of resources. It is understandably controversial in the chief’s world to get that over the line, as many feel like they would rather have the staff than open the police station.’
Joy Allen, the police and crime commissioner for Durham, said access to front counters was a ‘key issue’ and one solution was to combine services and split the cost.
‘There’s an opportunity to have community safety stations where you have wardens, Neighbourhood Watch personnel and other groups so people can go in and report antisocial behaviour – not just limited to police,’ she said.
In September, Northamptonshire Police started running mobile stations, known as ‘neighbourhood beat buses’. The two Volkswagen Crafter vans give people in both town and rural areas face-to-face access to officers.
Source: (Daily Mail)