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Dorset police stations will have to close, crime commissioner tells meeting
POLICE and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill is set to announce the closure of police stations across Dorset, the Echo can reveal.
Mr Underhill revealed the news to a group of teenagers but is yet to make the announcement to the wider public. He made the comments at the regional forum of the UK Youth Parliament.
He refused to remark on what he had said when questioned by the Echo after the session.
He revealed the plans to a meeting attended by about 30 people including members of the youth parliament, youth workers and West Dorset District Councillor Alastair Chisholm.
The Dorset Echo had been invited to cover the meeting by the organisers of the youth forum.
During the forum with the group of teens, he also said some police station front desk opening times would be halved.
He did not stipulate how many or which police stations would be closed or give any more details on the front desk times.
The Echo reported earlier this week that underused and empty buildings are costing Dorset Police £2.1 million a year – enough to hire 60 extra police officers.
Mr Underhill says he is frustrated by private finance initiative (PFI) contracts which were set up in the 1990s.
Reacting to the news of the proposed closures, Dorset Police Federation chairman Clive Chamberlain said: “It’s a sign that the police service is struggling to deliver because of the dire financial position that has been imposed on us by the government. The losers in all of this are the people of Dorset.
“If they close stations it means officers will have to travel further to get to incidents. This might add on to response times.
“We pay more here for our police service than anywhere else in the country.
“We are the worse funded force in the country.
“We are continuing to pay more for the loss of our service and these are difficult decisions that have to be made by the PCC and the chief constable.”
He added that anyone with concerns should write to their MP because they have ‘voted in favour of the cuts that have been imposed on Dorset Police.’
Fears over the future of some of the county’s police stations re-surfaced in July when Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said further cuts meant closures and collaboration with other forces could be needed.
Alistair Chisholm, who was at the conference, confirmed Mr Underhill had made the comment.
He said: “I did hear him say it.
“He has something like a 25 per cent cut in his budget and in the course of his talk, like anybody with common sense, he said there is no way he can please all of the people all the time.”
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