In these straitened times we know what John Apter says about making hard choices between police officers and police stations is true, unpalatable though it is.
But the chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, then says: ‘We are moving into an era where we’re not going to have police stations in every town.’ The key word in that sentence is ‘town’.
Portsmouth is not Fareham or Gosport.
It is a city and, surprising as this may be to some, it’s a place where the odd crime or two has been known to be committed.
Portsmouth without a police station? It would be laughable if it were not so serious. The city’s crime fraternity will be sniggering all the way to their Spanish boltholes.
But Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, is deadly serious when he says he is considering building an £18m police investigation centre... at Havant, leaving Portsmouth without a police station.
We are assured a superintendent and neighbourhood and response teams would still be based at the Guildhall. But how long would it take them to reach their vehicles to get to an emergency? What chance have detectives got of getting to the scene of a major crime in, say, Old Portsmouth while the trail is still hot, if they are based at Havant?
Southampton has one of these PICs, but it is in the heart of that city, not several miles beyond the city’s boundary.
It was bad enough when Gosport and Fareham lost their police stations and their detectives shifted to Portsmouth.
But a city with a population the size of Portsmouth’s, with its high crime rate, without a station? It’s simply bonkers and smacks of a plot from The Thin Blue Line sitcom. Oh no, that was set in a police station...