Police stations’ weekend cuts?

Chief Superintendent Marc Callaghan takes over as divisional commander for Wakefield District
Chief Superintendent Marc Callaghan takes over as divisional commander for Wakefield District

CONTROVERSIAL cost-cutting plans could see Pontefract and Castleford’s police station front desks shut at the weekends and overnight.

Police have started a public consultation on plans to close the two station inquiry desks at weekends and to cut weekday opening hours from the current 7am to midnight to a reduced 10am to 6pm timespan.

The plans are part of police efforts to save £2m after they were told by central government to cut £96m from their budget by 2015 as part of an ongoing spending review.

Ch Supt Marc Callaghan, Wakefield district police divisional commander, said: “This is not about reducing our service, it is about responding to the changing demands and safeguarding frontline policing.

“We appreciate there are still times when people want to come into a police station and we hope that these plans would enable us to best manage that need.”

“We are in challenging times and it is essential that we make the most efficient and effective use of all our resources, ensuring we are available where and when the public need us.”

Police are in talks with MPs, councillors and residents until June 10 when they will make a decision on the final plan.

The first consultation in January saw officers survey 2,500 people about how frequently they go to the public inquiries desk in an emergency.

Figures of the desks’ overnight visitors have not been released, but the plans also propose Wakefield to open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm – instead of the current 24-hour service – and South Kirkby’s desk would close and be replaced by a “community contact point” which would open at scheduled times for police meetings with the public.

Supt Tyron Joyce, head of community police in the Wakefield district, said: “We are talking to the public at the moment about the proposed changes and have reached out to people at informal meetings in the community, including our ‘coffee with a copper’ meetings, which we hold across the district, and also over Facebook.

“This consultation period is being carried out so we can best meet the needs of the public. We currently only have a 24-hour service in Wakefield and we find that most people who do not have an emergency will call us or Facebook us.

“We have to make significant cuts and this is one idea we have.”

To give your views, call West Yorkshire Police on 101 or go to their Facebook site.