Biggleswade Police Station is one of many bases on the list to be shut down in Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martin’s plan.
But the PCC’s office insists that this will only be ‘relocation’ rather than outright closure. The strategy aims to cut costs as Beds Police’s budget continues to be reduced.
The force has already had to slash its spending by £15m, leaving it with a £102m budget this year, and a further £15m must go by 2018/19 as funding continues to be cut.
It currently costs £3m a year to run Beds Police’s buildings and Mr Martins aims to reduce this by six per cent – £180,000 – over the next few years.
Biggleswade Police Station houses Beds, Herts and Cambs’ shared Professional Standards Department. This would need to be moved “before seeking a more central and accessible location for a local policing base,” the PCC’s statement says.
Mr Martins said: “We’ve done our homework and it’s abundantly clear that the public would rather protect visible frontline policing than save redundant and underused police buildings.
“Footfall data shows that beyond the three busier urban stations in Bedford, Dunstable and Luton, front desks at other stations are visited by an average of just four callers per day, the vast majority of which for routine matters that could have been managed by other means.
“We also have three stations where occupancy is below 50 per cent and some stations in locations that are not particularly accessible or visible to the public.”
He insists that police officers are not being moved out of communities and that they will in fact spend more time on the streets.
Each neighbourhood will continue to have the same level of policing, with police officers and staff visiting other community buildings, he added.
Ampthill’s station is likely to be moved to Flitwick. Greyfriars in Bedford would be decommissioned, some police based elsewhere in the town centre. There would be significant changes at the Kempston headquarters.
Sandy’s station, which houses the tri-force Scientific Services Department and is not open to the public at present, could be closed.
Staff from Greyfriars and Luton plus some staff from Kempston could be moved to Dunstable’s police station.
Houghton Regis’ station could be moved but this is not a high priority and Leighton Buzzard’s is likely to be moved to a yet to be identified location.
Chief Constable Colette Paul added: “This strategy achieves the difficult balance of helping to maintain front line policing while protecting those areas of estate that we know are important to us and the communities we serve.
“We are trying to ensure our police presence is in the right place to meet demand and offers best value for money.”
What do you think of the plan? Email [email protected] biggleswadechronicle.co.uk