Police boss calls for closed-down stations to be reopening

Police boss calls for closed-down stations to be reopening to repair public faith in the force

  • Police boss says stations closed during years of austerity should be reopened
  • The Police and crime commissioner says it will bring back confidence in the law 
  • At least 667 stations with front counters have shut since 2010 due to cut costs

Police stations that closed during years of austerity should be reopened to bring back confidence in law enforcement, a police and crime commissioner said yesterday.

In March the Daily Mail revealed that more than half of Britain’s police stations had closed in the past ten years.

At least 667 facilities with front counters, at which people could talk to an officer, have been shut in England and Wales since 2010 to cut costs.

Police stations that closed during years of austerity should be reopened to bring back confidence in law enforcement, a police and crime commissioner said yesterday

Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, said that it was time to reverse the trend and reopen front counters across the country.

The force has reopened Newquay police station in Cornwall, and Miss Hernandez said there are plans to do the same at Tiverton in Devon and in five other places.

She said that the stations had been closed because few people had used them and it was difficult to persuade chief constables that having a manned counter was worth the cost of keeping them open. 

‘Once a police station is closed it is flipping hard to get them reopened because we know the footfall will be low,’ she said.

‘But public confidence in policing needs to be reinvigorated and the police have to be accessible, there has to be multiple routes to the police.

‘It feels to many chief constables that there will be a low footfall so it’s a waste of resources. It is understandably controversial in the chief’s world to get that over the line, as many feel like they would rather have the staff than open the police station.’

Joy Allen, the police and crime commissioner for Durham, said access to front counters was a ‘key issue’ and one solution was to combine services and split the cost.

‘There’s an opportunity to have community safety stations where you have wardens, Neighbourhood Watch personnel and other groups so people can go in and report antisocial behaviour – not just limited to police,’ she said.

In September, Northamptonshire Police started running mobile stations, known as ‘neighbourhood beat buses’. The two Volkswagen Crafter vans give people in both town and rural areas face-to-face access to officers.

Dixon of Dock Green replaced by cannabis farms and anarchists 

Drug dealers reaped rewards

Astonishing pictures revealed how one former station was turned into a massive cannabis factory.

The first floor and loft space at Failsworth station in Oldham had been used to grow more than 1,000 plants worth an estimated £1.5million. Police said the ‘gardeners’ appeared to have been living on the site.

The station opened in 1892 but was shut in 2013 and sold for £190,000 three years later. The cannabis factory – complete with hydroponic lighting equipment – was discovered in 2019.

The first floor and loft space at Failsworth station in Oldham had been used to grow more than 1,000 plants worth an estimated £1.5million

… And it wasn’t a one-off either 

A Grade II-listed former station is feared to have faced the same fate after it closed in 2013.

The site in Winchmore Hill, north-east London, was sold in 2015 for £950,000 and is being converted into six flats. 

However, developers faced a setback last year when police arrested two men on suspicion of growing cannabis on the premises.

Grade II-listed former station Winchmore Hill was sold in 2015 for £950,000 and is being converted into six flats

Stronghold that fell to squatters

It was built to provide a stronghold for interrogating IRA terrorists – but years later Paddington Green police station was overrun by anarchists.

The west London site was occupied for three weeks last February by 11 members of the so-called Green Anti-Capitalist Front, who smeared ‘all cops are bastards’ on the walls. It took more than 60 officers, bailiffs and security guards to evict them.

Paddington Green police station was occupied for three weeks last February by 11 members of the so-called Green Anti-Capitalist Front

The once ultra-secure station was closed in 2018, and an application has been filed to convert it into 600 homes.

Built at the height of the Troubles, it was described by one former detainee as having ‘an atmosphere of total lockdown’. Writer Ronan Bennett said: ‘The place had a bleak finality about it which prompted the feeling that you were never going to get out.’  

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