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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Police defend station closures
Police officer
The public "is consulted" before station closures
Police have defended their service after it emerged that almost one in four police stations in England and Wales has closed since 1990.

Many other stations are open for limited hours or on specific days of the week only, with some running a nine-to-five service.

The police said the "front-counter" closures were not a reflection on the quality of policing in an area.

A survey in Monday's Daily Mail newspaper revealed many stations did not open before 9am.


The loss of a police station does not equate to a loss of police presence

Home Office spokeswoman
It claimed the local "bobby" was often out of reach, with callers having to contact headquarters many miles away or visit stations far from their homes.

But police said the figures were misleading.

Figures shown to BBC News Online revealed that between 1990 and 2000 the number of police stations fell from 2,729 to 2,099.

That was a drop of 630 police stations - almost one in four - with 939 being closed and 309 opened.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said widespread public consultation was undertaken before a decision to close a station was made.

She pointed to police patrols, community officers and plans currently being debated on the Police Reform Bill which put more officers in the community.

New communications

She added that a survey by the Audit Commission, Action Stations, in 1999, revealed that demand for "front-counter" policing had fallen as communications improved.

"It is important people are assured the loss of a police station does not equate to a loss of police presence," she said.

"It is not accurate to read these figures and say there is a diminished service.

"Some police stations which close are simply reclassified but [still] hold a police facility, and there can be increased patrols.

"Police station closures cause concern in local areas but the decision to close one is taken by the chief constable of a division.

"He has expert local knowledge to examine the community's needs and resources."

'Seen as a disaster'

The Action Stations survey revealed that in the age of the internet and increased transport police stations were "outdated" in places.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, ACPO, told BBC News Online many factors were taken into consideration.

These included distribution of stations, resources, types of crime specific to an area and other community schemes.

He said: "Figures do not give us an accurate impression of the reality of policing.

"The closure of a station is seen as a disaster.

"But officers out in the community targeting specific problems in an area, is important, reassuring and effective."

See also:

22 Jul 02 | UK Politics
30 May 02 | England
16 May 02 | UK Politics
07 May 02 | UK Politics
16 Apr 02 | UK Politics
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