FOUR South Tyneside police stations are planned to close in Northumbria Police’s shake-up of services after being hit with £46m cuts.
Boldon, Harton in South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow Marine/Viking Park will shut in the review of services, Northumbria Police announced this afternoon.
However, Millbank – South Shields’s main police station will not be affected by the cuts, and the authority stressed that only one of the four stations - Hebburn - is actually open to the public.
The police authority said that efforts have been made to safeguard the services the public say they value most – visible policing in their communities.
Police & Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “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 currently doing this in North Tyneside, where we are proposing to have police in the White Swan Centre at Killingworth following public consultation, rather than in an outdated, expensive to maintain police station in Forest Hall.
“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. However, we guarantee that no police services will be re-located until we have found accessible bases within the community for neighbourhood teams to work from and they are working well.
“I am conscious that local people are feeling the effects of the economic downturn very acutely in our region. We have managed to protect frontline numbers and deliver the savings needed without the public having to pay more.”
The force has already delivered £58m of savings since the start of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010.
Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “Neighbourhood policing will remain the cornerstone of how we deliver service and I remain committed to protecting, as far as possible, the officers and staff who are visible in our communities. This includes 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams, including CSO Patrol and the detectives who work in our neighbourhoods.
“In order to make further savings we propose to introduce a new structure by streamlining our Area Commands from six to three and reducing the number of buildings we work from.
“We will need to reduce police staff posts by approx 230 across a range of areas by April 2017, but have already identified 80 vacancies and hope to achieve as many as possible through natural turnover.
“The new structure will also allow us to reduce approx 200 senior management and supervisory police officer roles, again through natural turnover. We will continue to recruit police constables to fill frontline vacancies as they arise.
“Northumbria has an excellent record in reducing crime and disorder and keeping our communities safe and those high standards will continue.”
Of the 25 police buildings proposed for closure only 12 are currently open to the public.
Nine of the 12 stations are open between 9am and 5pm and two stations open from 8am to midnight. Only two of the stations have 24-hour opening hours.
The stations which are proposed for closure will not close before alternative accommodation is found. By doing this there will be no affect on the service provided to the Northumbria Police communities.