POLICE have vowed to remain at the heart of their communities – despite the axe falling on station front desks in Portsmouth to save cash.
From next Friday, only one police station front desk will be open to the public in the city – at Portsmouth Central police station in Winston Churchill Avenue.
But its hours have been cut to 8am to 10pm seven days a week – meaning there is no longer a station in the city where people can report crime 24 hours a day. Cosham station’s front desk shut in February – a month earlier than originally planned.
Fratton station’s front desk will shut on March 16.
Front desks are also to close down at Waterlooville and Park Gate as Hampshire Constabulary battles to save £54m by 2015.
In emergencies, people can still use intercoms at the police station to speak to an officer.
Portsmouth Superintendent Norman Mellors says a review of station front desks showed the majority of residents prefer to talk to police in the community and would rather contact officers by phone or email instead of at police station front counters.
But people are reminded they can still contact officers at beat surgeries, via hampshire.police.uk, and on Twitter or Facebook. And they can dial 101 – or 999 in an emergency.
A police spokesman said: ‘We’re never complacent in wanting to maintain an active presence in every neighbourhood. Officers have access to mobile data on smart phones and laptops.
‘These allow officers to complete more work on visible patrols in the community, instead of having to return to computers at police stations.’
Meanwhile the force is pushing ahead with plans to sell Southsea station, saying it is not fit for purpose or cost-efficient.
The spokesman added: ‘The sale won’t happen overnight. No police station will relocate until an alternative base for the local Safer Neighbourhoods team within the community has been found.
‘We are exploring opportunities to move to locations accessible to the public – council offices, libraries or local supermarkets.’