RINGWOOD will lose its police station when it closes on May 31 amid increasing cuts to Hampshire Constabulary, the Daily Echo can reveal.

At a recent town council meeting, Inspector Richard Parsons told members that the Ringwood team, which covers Burley and Bransgore, will relocate to the town's fire station.

There is currently one sergeant, one-and-a-half full-time equivalent constables and seven PCSOs.

Once vacant the police station will close as the force tries to make savings to cover the significant cuts made by central Government.

There has been a 3.12 per cent increase in the precept, raising an additional £3.3million for Hampshire Constabulary in 2017/18.

Inspector Parsons told members that much of this was spent on 'behind the scenes' operations but there appeared to be "an ever increasing bill with a decreasing presence".

In a statement to the Daily Echo a spokesman for the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office said: “Last year, a report from HMIC showed that Hampshire Constabulary receives £44.8 million less than the average police force from the Government, which provides the majority (64 per cent) of the force’s funds.

“Hampshire Constabulary has already made £80 million of efficiency savings, which includes sharing buildings with other services, such as Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, as it is about to do in Ringwood.

“Hampshire Constabulary are ranked second best value for money in the country and increasing the precept by 3.12 per cent ensured that the current level of funding for this year was maintained. Initiatives such as sharing buildings and back office services allows the Commissioner to continue working to keep residents and communities safer.”

The town council was also told that 35 per cent of calls to the police force resulted in no deployment at all and there is a policy of non-deployment for theft unless there is obvious forensic evidence at the scene.

When asked to explain the deployment rate by the Daily Echo, Inspector Richard Parsons said: “Our Resolution Centre is responsible for managing non-emergency calls from the public efficiently and effectively. This can include crimes such as some theft and non-residential burglary offences when a suspect is not at the scene and there is no danger to life. It is not always necessary to deploy a police officer.

“Emergency calls are treated as critical and handled by our force control room.

“To make savings over the past few years it has been necessary for us to review what we are doing as a police service, how we do it, and what we should be doing when there is no risk to the public.

“As part of this work we have reorganised the way we work to best protect our communities with the budget we have available. This work includes identifying opportunities for innovation and efficiency, largely through partnership and technology.”