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14 January 2011, 16:46
Four police offices are to close as Hertfordshire Police Authority try to find £36 million pounds in savings over the next four years.
Stations at London Colney, Baldock, Bushey and Potters Bar are to shut, whilst police premises on Westland Road in Watford and the police office in the Harlequin Centre in Watford will also be closed.
Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority, Stuart Nagler, said: “This is the first of many difficult decisions we are going to have to make in the coming weeks to ensure that Hertfordshire’s high quality of policing services are maintained in the county despite the 17% cut in our funding. I would like to reassure people that the decision made today will not impact on the number of operational staff, including Neighbourhood teams and PCSOs on patrol in the locations affected. Whilst some officers and staff will have their base moved to other nearby stations, they will continue to be dedicated to their local area. In addition we have asked the Constabulary to explore opportunities with other partners to find alternative venues in these areas that could be used to hold drop-in sessions for the public and possibly as a base for Neighbourhood Policing Team officers.”
Stuart added: “The closures form part of a wider review of the Authority’s estates and buildings and will generate annual savings of £220,000 and capital receipts in the region of £2.4m. We have also asked the Constabulary to explore opportunities with partners in the longer term to either relocate police stations or bring in partners to share our current premises at Bishop’s Stortford, Berkhamsted and South Oxhey. In the case of Berkhamsted, discussions are already under way for local officers to relocate into Dacorum Borough Council’s Civic Offices in Berkhamsted.”
The total running costs of Hertfordshire’s police stations is about £8.5m a year. In addition to estates, an on-going review of front office counter provision is also being undertaken and a full report on the options will be considered by the Police Authority on 16 February.
The number of people visiting police stations in person continues to fall year-on-year as the use of telephone, web-based and other alternative contact methods rapidly increases. However, the Authority recognises that a ‘police presence’ in an area is still very important to many people and must be taken into consideration when we make its decisions.