Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Police station closures will inevitably leave the public feeling less safe.

Staffordshire police have announced plans to cut the opening hours of police stations across the county, including those in Hanley and Longton in response to changes in the way the public use the service.

As a result there will now be no police stations open 24 hours a day in the whole of North Staffordshire.

They have also announced that the police stations in Stoke and Tunstall will be closed down, this will save £ 1 million in operating costs, with the possibility that up to £4 million could be generated if both sites are sold to developers.

Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis told the Sentinel that while he recognised that 'people like the idea' of police stations being open around the clock 'policing budgets are reducing, as are the numbers of people using inquiry desks.'

Green Party activist Jan Zablocki said the closures were a 'powerful indicator of how deeply austerity impact on services upon which people depend.'

Mr Ellis said the police service had plans to set up police posts in Stoke and Tunstall to replace the closed stations, but did not give details of when this would happen or where the posts would be located.

North Staffs Green Party Campaigns Coordinator Adam Colclough said that it was 'worrying that two towns within our city are to lose their police stations.'

He said that the party welcomed the intention of the police service to maintain a presence in both towns, but drew attention to the problems experienced by members of the public trying to contact the police using the 101 telephone service in the past.

He added that 'whilst the way people interact with the police may have changed over the years the public still like to feel there is a defined location they can go to for help at any time of day.'

Closing police stations and restricting those that remain to opening to the public during 'office hours' risks, he said, 'creating a situation where against the intentions of its officers and leadership the police service becomes a less visible and more reactive organisation at odds with its tradition of being at the heart of the communities it serves.'

As a result, he concluded, 'there is a real risk of the public being left feeling less safe.'

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