The future of Bedfordshire police stations in jeopardy as public survey is launched

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, has today launched a public survey to help decide the future of police stations and says that tough choices need to be made.

By Amanda Devlin
Friday, 2nd August 2013, 12:11 pm

Currently, police buildings in Bedfordshire, including local stations, cost £3m annually to run and maintain.

But due to on-going cuts in government funding, Beds Police has to identify £7.5m of savings over the next two years in addition to the £15m it has already removed from the budget since 2010.

Beds Police say that many of the existing buildings are outdated and in need of refurbishment and are consuming vast sums of money which could be better spent on protecting front line officers or PCSOs.

The new survey aims to collect information about how local people use policing services and the methods they employ to contact officers in a non-emergency situation.

It also poses questions aimed at helping Commissioner Martins gauge support for replacing some stations with more accessible facilities in public areas such as public buildings and supermarkets.

Commissioner Martins said: “This survey is vital in helping us to understand what local people want from their police service and how much they are prepared to compromise to achieve it.

“Our finances are finite and to keep as many police officers and PCSOs on our streets we need to look at reducing wastage and utilising our resources in the best way.

“Modern policing has changed considerably over the years, chiefly due to the use of technology. In the future officers will be able to carry out much of their communications and administrative tasks while on the move, which reduces the demand on premises and increases their visibility.

“Similarly, many residents choose to contact the police via email or telephone for a non-urgent matter which has further reduced footfall within many of our police stations.

“Our task is to decide whether the precious funds we are using to keep these buildings open could now be better spent on protecting our frontline.

“There are many innovative ways of increasing access to the police while reducing overheads. One option is establish police bases right in the heart of the community by sharing facilities with public or commercial providers which would make it more convenient for the public to talk to an officer.

“Tough choices need to be made but I want local residents views to help shape the options chosen by completing the survey.

“Among other issues the survey asks people what their main concerns would be in relation to police station front counter or station closures and how often, if at all, respondents have visited their local police station during the past year.”

No decisions regarding the future of Bedfordshire’s police buildings and front counters have been taken and Commissioner Martins is appealing for everyone with an interest in local policing to have their say in how policing will be delivered in future.

The questionnaire is online to keep costs down but is available on paper by request. The deadline for responses is October 1 and people can access the survey at www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/police-stations-survey/ or if they would prefer a hard copy, call 01234 842064.