Police station opening times could be slashed

SUFFOLK Constabulary has come under fire as it bids to slash the opening times of police stations across the county.

A recommendation to save around �200,000 a year, within three years, from the cash-strapped constabulary’s budget is due to go before the county’s police authority on Friday.

If the proposal is ratified it means access to police stations or customer service points will be reduced from 1,095 hours a week to 842 hours.

Although no stations would close, Stowmarket, Newmarket, Mildenhall and Beccles would have their opening hours cut to 56 a week from 84.

Capel St Mary police station, which is open 25 hours a week, would be reduced to just six, as would Hadleigh, which currently opens for 24. Ixworth would also drop to six hours a week from 20.

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Ipswich Town Hall’s customer Service Direct point would be shut, leaving Ipswich police station open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, instead of 7.30am to 11pm.

Among the other stations losing out will be Felixstowe, Leiston and Woodbridge. Each would drop from 66 hours a week to 56.

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Sudbury would lose two hours, Haverhill seven, and Beccles 28. However, Halesworth’s opening times would increase by 16 hours, while Lowestoft would open for an extra four hours.

Gerald White, of Capel St Mary Parish Council, was alarmed to hear about the proposed cutbacks, adding that Capel Post Office had two armed robberies within five days recently.

Mr White said: “I think it is a bit much to cut back from 25 hours to six hours. You wonder whether it’s worth have a police station in that case. I think it is totally wrong. The station is there to serve the public. We have had these post office raids and I think people will be very disappointed.”

The Mayor of Stowmarket, Cllr Poppy Robinson said: “I think the public’s reaction will be one of horror. They will be very dismayed.”

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Kitching said: “The changes are being driven by the desire to meet standards set out by the national Policing Pledge and ensure a consistently corporate approach across the county.

“Another driving force is that the constabulary is facing growing financial pressures. To enable the constabulary to provide the best value for money for its taxpayers and to provide a service that is efficient and effective, a programme of work is under way as part of the ‘Strategic Change Programme’ to examine how we can make financial efficiencies in order to reinvest and protect our frontline services. ”


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