In a week that sees Nottinghamshire Police judged as ‘requiring improvement’ the Crime Commissioner has announced Hucknall and Bulwell front counters will close.
Paddy Tipping has come under heavy fire as he moves to defend closures, court cases and criticism in a bid to meet huge budget cuts whilst keeping bobbies on the beat.
Seven front counters are to shut, including the two in the Dispatch district, as well as police stations in Sneinton, the Meadows, Arnold and Carlton. However because of an appeal by the public, Carlton will remain open until a suitable alternative can be found.
The decision follows public consultation and an analysis of their effective use and forms part of £12.7m of savings required over the next 12 months - on top of the £42m already secured. A further £8.2m of savings are required in 2015/16.
“Throughout this consultation, I’ve held meetings with various groups and public representatives to explain our financial position and the restrictions this places on our resources,” said Commissioner Tipping. “While people didn’t necessarily like the fact that stations and front counters must change to negotiate current funding pressures, they did understand that we have little room to manoeuvre and our hands are effectively tied.
“However we approach it, it always comes down to the same predicament: do we safeguard police officers or buildings? I think it’s fair to say that no-one wants to put buildings before police officers so the only way around it is to utilise our front counters more effectively and according to public demand.
“We have a tough financial challenge and people consistently tell me that they prefer bobbies to buildings and you can see that when you look at the number of people who actually visit a police station instead of using the phone or an email, which is why we have announced the changes to stations and front counters this week.”
This latest round of cuts follows a report released this week by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which found that ‘the Force’s preparations to meet the financial challenge in the short and long-term required improvement’.
Its overall judgement summary said that ‘Nottinghamshire Police must implement its plans for a new and affordable operating model for policing the county and the city. Unless it does so, or if there are further delays, the force will not be able to achieve future savings and this may have an adverse effect on the service the force provides to the public’.
But the Commissioner said the force was on track to meet its budget demands and was already making changes to how it delivers policing across the county to enable a future for the force.
Commissioner Tipping added: “Let me be clear – it’s tough out there but we believe our plans will enhance services for the public. The work undertaken by officers in a visible role such as those who respond to an emergency is a small part of the picture.
“Our plan incorporates all risks to public safety, but strong emphasis is placed on providing a reassuring, visible presence within our communities through enhanced use of PCSOs and Special Constables.”
Dispatch readers have given a mixed response to the news that its front counters are to close. Here are some of the comments left on Facebook this week:
Rhonda Morrison: So we have to travel where now? Mansfield? It’s miles away. Hucknall pays a lot into Ashfield district’s ‘pot’ and we don’t even get our drains cleaned until after we’ve had a flood. As one of the bigger towns we need and deserve a ‘walk in’ fully functioning police station.
Klaire Hodgson: They knocked a decent pub down to make that police station in Bulwell and now they want to close. What was the point in building it?
Brian Marriott: A town the size of Hucknall without a police station is a crime in itself. Unbelievable !
Danie ‘Fanny’ Chance: Does anyone ever walk in to a police station these days? We have phones and email, it’s just the way society is changing. As for Paddy Tipping, I trust that he will be doing all he can. He’s a good man.
Mark Andrews: There goes the last of community policing then.