Hampshire pensioners’ fears over closures of police front desks

ALL CHANGE Posters in the window of the front office of Kingston Crescent police station.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120985-2)
ALL CHANGE Posters in the window of the front office of Kingston Crescent police station. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120985-2)
The fire near Kentidge Way, Waterlooville, yesterday. Picture: Craig Handy

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PENSIONERS have raised concerns over the closure of police station front desks across Hampshire.

Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association has spoken out against cutbacks which mean residents can no longer report crime in person at stations 24 hours a day.

As previously reported in The News, only one front desk in Portsmouth – at the central police station in Winston Churchill Avenue – is now open to the public following the closure of desks at Fratton and Cosham.

And its opening hours are being reduced to 8am to 10pm daily.

People can still contact police by phoning 101 or 999 in an emergency, or on Twitter, Facebook and via hampshire.police.uk.

The force says the cost-cutting move comes after a survey in which the majority of people said they would prefer to call or email to report a crime or make an enquiry.

But Maria Cole, 68, from Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, disagrees.

Miss Cole said: ‘I’m a bit surprised because Portsmouth is a busy city.

‘I would have thought the police should be a bit more accessible for older people who don’t all have access to computers or fancy telephones.

‘Speaking on the telephone isn’t the same as speaking to an officer directly.

‘It’s not good expecting everybody to be able to contact the police through computer.

‘By the time you have found a library with a computer you could have found a police station and a police officer.’

Police station front desks have shut at Bishop’s Waltham, Park Gate, Hayling and Waterlooville as Hampshire Police try to save up to £54m by 2015 due to government spending cuts. Southsea and Hayling Island stations are to be sold off to save cash.

But police have said no station earmarked for closure will shut until a suitable base is found in the community for Safer Neighbourhoods Teams. Options include libraries, council offices and supermarkets.

From April 2, front desks at Fareham station in Quay Street and in Civic Centre Road, Havant, will open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.

The front desk at Gosport station in Cross Street will open from 9.30pm to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday. But it will close from 2pm to 2.45pm.