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More forces look to reverse station closures as demand grows

The estates strategies for forces across England have been halted again as two more PCCs attempt to halt station closures.

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner halted the proposed relocation of Newark Police Station.

Meanwhile hopes have been raised by South Yorkshire residents that they will get a new station in a bid to cut crime and anti-social behaviour.

They are joining a raft of other forces including Wiltshire and Greater Manchester in reviewing force estates.

Nottinghamshire’s plan had been to create shared facilities with Newark and Sherwood District Council. The deal would have saved around £100,000 a year.

The county's Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry has halted the project after 79% of respondents to a public survey said they were against the move.

The decision means Newark Police Station will be retained and instead other uses will be explored for the building.

Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “It’s clear from the results of the survey that people want the police to achieve closer working with partners such as the council, but the loss of a perfectly good building was not the way to do it.

“I will now work tirelessly with the police to find other uses for the building, in an attempt to bring more resource in to the town. This will include looking at whether we can share the building with other stakeholders to continue the close working relationship between the police, council, and other partners.”

The latest developments make closing stations even more complex. Forces are balancing public demand for physical spaces they won’t visit – and won’t fund through significant increases in council tax.

Wiltshire’s PCC is reviewing a shared office deal after officers warned they could not question or search suspects at the council building they have to use.

The old station has been offered back to the force after a college closed.

Greater Manchester has re-opened a custody centre in a bid to improve response times.

In South Yorkshire, residents and business owners in Burngreave have begun lobbying for a police station to be opened in an empty housing estate office.

The station in the area was closed and the neighbourhood team has been using a garden gazebo as part of work to cut anti-social behaviour.

“I would like to see the community officers here more, to push the drug takers away. They see police down here and don’t come back,” a resident told the local media.”

This week also saw Cheshire begin a consultation on Wilmslow Police Station’s future which is likely to see a land sale and a new building without a front desk.

Although ruling out complete closure, the force revealed the current set-up is used by less than 20 people a week.

Superintendent Peter Crowcroft said: “The current proposals supports the force’s commitment for an estate that is fit for the future based on operational needs and to have a police service that is truly connected with its local communities.

“The decision will retain a police station within the local community and achieve cost savings that can be re-invested into neighbourhood policing.”

The consultation came in the same week as Essex Police re-opened a custody facility at Chelmsford. It also houses the force’s domestic abuse and online investigations teams – as well as having a front counter team.

Chief Superintendent Tom Simons told residents: “I’m really proud of the facility here at Chelmsford police station and it’s a fantastic work environment for myself and my teams.

“But the important thing is that we’re here in the heart of your community, in Chelmsford town centre, keeping you safe and catching criminals.”

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