Why are all the police stations closed?
There are a few things to explain here – firstly, we have had to close several buildings because of the severe cuts, and because the size of the Force has reduced, so the space needed to house the staff has reduced too. I have always believed that to reduce the estate rather than remove front line police is a more pragmatic approach. In times of austerity hard choices have to be made. I chose to keep police officers rather than empty buildings. The police estate has reduced by a third in my term, but we have more police officers because of that, and the numbers of PCSO’s hasn’t reduced at all.
There is also the issue of front office counters. Although your local station may have limited opening hours, or has indeed closed as a front counter, we had to make cuts, with a loss of 20% funding. The police asked to close twelve front office counters but I was able to limit this to six. It is important to remember that the footfall into police stations has reduced dramatically in the last decade. The vast majority of the public are happy to deal with the police online or by phoning 101.
I have invested hugely to improve the 101 service, and the new police website launches in April 2016, with lots of new features coming including the ability to report crime online.