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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Police station closures attacked
Officers on the beat
Home Office: Record police numbers
Three police stations have closed for every month Tony Blair has been prime minister, official figures show.

A Home Office study from last November, revealed by Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten, shows that 227 police stations have closed since 1 May 1997.

The closures ran at a higher rate of one a week under the Tories, it says.

"The government has let people down by failing to protect... a precious resource," said Mr Oaten, home affairs spokesman for the Lib Dems.

He said: "Many of these closures have been in the name of efficiency and cost-cutting. Thousands of people no longer have a permanent police presence in their town or neighbourhood.

"Community policing is vital for cutting crime and maintaining public confidence. At a time when the government claims the public should have a bigger say in local policing, people are increasingly unable to go down to the station and talk to an officer in person."

The hardest hit police forces were Essex, with 59 closures, Gloucestershire with 23 and South Wales with 22.

A Home Office spokesman said decisions on whether to close police stations were taken by chief constables as part of their efforts to provide more effective policing.

He said the closures were not due to funding shortfalls, pointing out there was now record funding for police forces and record numbers of police officers.

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