SOUTH Tyneside’s two MPs have condemned cost-cutting measures which will result in the closure of three police stations in the borough.
More than 400 jobs will go as Northumbria Police bid to save £104m, in response to the coalition Government’s funding cuts.
Northumbria Police will lose 230 members of civilian staff, slash its number of senior officers by 200, close “expensive” police stations and cut the number of area commands from six to three.
The force has to save an additional £46m by March 2017, having already delivered £58m in savings since the start of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010.
As a result, three satellite police stations will close in South Tyneside – at Harton, Boldon Colliery and Hebburn – although a police presence will remain in other community buildings in those areas.
Also set for the axe is the police marine unit in Jarrow. But the Millbank station in South Shields will retain its role as the area command headquarters for South Tyneside and Sunderland.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck hit out at the cuts, but said she is confident police will still be able to support the public “on the ground”.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I feel it’s another example of the Government getting their priorities all wrong.
“You have bankers still getting their bonuses, but the services that people rely upon, such as the health service, housing and now the police, are being scaled back.
“Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, and Chief Constable Sue Sim are committed and dedicated people and will make sure the cuts don’t affect policing on the ground, which is what people are concerned about.”
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn said: “It is appalling that this Tory-led Government’s cuts to policing are causing huge job losses in Northumbria Police.
“The force has already had to contend with managing massive cuts imposed by this Government’s austerity measures.
“I know that chief constables and their teams across Northumbria are trying their hardest in these difficult times, but this relentless attack on this vital public service is having a detrimental effect on their ability to do their job.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird joined the attack, saying: “The Government cuts are relentless and unfair.
“They impact far more heavily on our police service than on many others. The chief constable and I are very committed to maintaining the number of police officers and staff working in our neighbourhoods.
“To achieve this, we need to do things differently, use technology more effectively and work from different buildings that are cheaper to run.
“We will re-locate neighbourhood policing teams to bases in the local community, usually shared with other services.
“We are keen to make further savings by re-locating other neighbourhood policing teams into the communities that they serve, as this is what local policing is all about.”