Hampshire police officer raises fears over service to public as cuts bite

REASSURANCE Chief Superintendent Nigel Hindle
REASSURANCE Chief Superintendent Nigel Hindle
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POLICE fear the public are being let down by government cuts that sparked the closure of stations and front desks.

Officers say the ‘human face’ of the police is being destroyed as the cuts bite.

Some have expressed sadness and frustration over the closure of seven front desks in our area as Hampshire police battles to save £54m.

These are Cosham, Fratton, Waterlooville, Hayling Island, Park Gate, Bishop’s Waltham and Petersfield.

One officer, who does not want to be named, said: ‘It has affected the service to the public. It’s a direct result of the budget cuts. The human face of the police force isn’t there.

‘People used to be able to come to the front office and speak to a person. Now they have to stand in front of closed police stations and either phone on their personal phones or use another communication means that’s outside the front of that station.

‘They will not get through to someone who works in that local station, they will get through to the force enquiry centre who will help them but it’s that much removed. There have been people who have wanted assistance who have either knocked at a closed door, knocked at the custody door or come round the back of the police station where generally the public aren’t allowed.’

‘I can understand our bosses need to cut some money and they’ve got to make the cuts somewhere. I’m not blaming our direct bosses but the government has brought about these cuts and this is an effect.’

Hampshire police say people can contact them online and via 101 or 999 in an emergency.

One officer said: ‘Morale is low because a lot of people say the service is being eroded.’

Chief Superintendent Nigel Hindle, Eastern area commander, said: ‘We’re committed to ensuring that everyone is able to contact the police in the way that’s right for them. We reviewed the locations and opening times of all our front offices as part of the difficult process of having to make £36m savings in the last two years. As a result some front offices have had to close.

‘However, I want to reassure people that we are not leaving any community and are working on ways to make it easier for people to contact us.

‘Research has shown the majority of people prefer to telephone us, contact us online or speak directly to a police officer or support officer out in the community.’