The closure of Winton Police station public counter as one of six in the county is a “sad thing” for community and policing, says the Dorset Police Federation as it joins a national campaign against cuts.
It will reduce contact and could deter reporting of crime, says chairman Tony Tester.
The station’s front desk enquiry office is closing on March 1, along with Ferndown, Christchurch, Shaftesbury, Dorchester and Wareham due to “budget cuts”, says the Dorset Police and Crime Comissioner office. They join Verwood and Wimborne, closed since last summer and Boscombe since 2012.
Tester said that while the closure shouldn’t make residents feel unsafe, it wasn’t about that.
“It is more about the personal contact that people won’t have anymore.”
Some of the residents prefer to have a face-to-face conversations and wouldn’t phone the police to issue a complaint, he said.
He said the federation understood Dorset Police faced “tough times and tough decisions” with budgeting and the local branch had joined the national campaign #CutsHaveConsequences to encourage people to write in protest to politicians.
The Police and Crime Comissioner office said that £300,000 would be saved by the closure of six counter services, to meet budget cuts as a result of continued reductions in central government funding. Originally 12 “under-utilised” counters were due to close but after public consultation and the intervention of the commissioner Martyn Underhill some were saved.
Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said budget constraints meant unfortunately they couldn’t maintain such a costly and under-used service at the expense of other local policing.
“We have listened carefully to members of the public and retained services where they are most needed. Closing front counters does not mean that a police station is closed and officers continue to work in each area. The opening of community contact points later this year will be just one of the alternative ways that members of the public can get in touch with us in the future.”
Contact points are planned in community locations such as libraries, community centres and council offices, providing online services, 101 telephone access and crime prevention information, said Dorset Police. Surveys indicate that three-quarters of the public prefer to contact Dorset Police by telephone and improvements have already been made to the 101 non-emergency service while the Dorset Police website is being further developed.