More than 600 police stations have closed in the last eight years, new figures reveal, leaving scores of towns and cities without a “visible reassurance” for the public.
Budget cuts have led some forces to sell off at least half of their local stations in the largest programme of closures in policing history.
In other cases, even where a station remains, the front counters have been closed so people can no longer walk in and speak to officers in person.
Cities such as Bath, which is home to 89,000 people, and St Albans, where the population is 140,000, no longer have a dedicated station. In St Albans, where the police station closed in 2015, residents are directed to a “free telephone to police control room” outside the council offices.
Gloucestershire Police have closed 21 out of 28 stations, and in the Thames Valley region 24 of 60 stations have been lost, Freedom of Information figures obtained by the Sunday Times showed.
It comes as Scotland Yard admitted it has “run out of things to sell” after more than £1bn worth of property was sold off over the past six years.
The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest force, has had to make £600m of savings since 2010 and despite selling off dozens of stations and residential blocks, the force says funding cuts are still leading them to “breaking point”.
“We’ve sold the Crown Jewels, so to speak. We’ve run out of things to sell. This is really, really, worrying for society,” said Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation.
The Police Federation, which represents 100,000 rank-and-file officers, said the mass closures had removed a “visible reassurance” for the public.
In Lancashire, 11 front counters have closed this year.
West Midlands police chiefs plan to shut 24 stations in six years to save £5m a year in running costs, prompting protests and petitions.
Thames Valley Police said that losing stations had little impact as laptops and phones meant the office “can be anywhere”. Read more
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