Closure of police stations “inevitable”

4:50pm Friday 18th January 2013

CLOSURES of police stations across the West Mercia force area are “inevitable”, the chief constable has admitted.

During a live webcast earlier this week, David Shaw said in difficult financial times he would rather keep bobbies on the beat than continue to fund all the existing buildings.

He said some stations are “used two or three times a day” and that tough decisions are going to be made over which ones shut down.

Deputy police and crime commissioner Barrie Sheldon also revealed a report is expected to be published within three weeks outlining the changes.

He also said commissioner Bill Longmore would visit every station personally and consult with residents before making the final decisions.

Mr Sheldon and Mr Shaw answered questions on a range of issues including council tax, front-line policing, PCSOs, council tax and rural crime.

After a question asking for details on the future of police stations, Mr Shaw said: “We are very soon going to be able to set out proposals to the commissioner and his team, and there will inevitably be a rationalisation of buildings.

“We’ve got some stations used two or three times a day, and that’s for very low level things like producing documents - I cannot defend that when we could be using the money to put police on the streets.”

Mr Sheldon added: “We know it’s an inevitability.”

During the webcast Mr Sheldon also defended the controversial alliance with Warwickshire Police, saying it was the only way to protect the force from even more visible cuts.

It was reported in the Advertiser last week that 140 police officer jobs are being axed by 2016, as well as 315 civilian jobs in West Mercia.

Mr Sheldon said: “As with all forces nationally the Government has asked us to make huge reductions to the police budget.

“West Mercia alone has to reduce its budget by £20 million by 2015 - the alliance is a very sensible, pragmatic idea where we are able to provide the same level of service despite the cuts.”

He said the main focus would be merging back office jobs like IT and human resources, producing savings which would otherwise impact on the front line.

Mr Longmore was due to take part in the debate but his office said he could not do so due to illness.

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