England

Plans to shut 18 Hampshire and island police stations

Police lamp outside police station
Image caption Hampshire Constabulary plans to replace traditional stations with a presence in libraries or fire stations

Proposals to close 18 police stations across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been put forward in a bid to save millions of pounds.

Hampshire Constabulary said it planned to replace traditional stations with an "alternative location" in communities, such as in libraries or fire stations.

However it said these may not be operational 24 hours a day.

Hampshire Police Authority, which owns of all the force's estate, is due to meet on 23 June to discuss the plans.

The plans include closing traditional police stations in Southsea (Portsmouth), Hayling Island, Shirley (Southampton), Stockbridge, Fleet, Farnborough, Alresford, Petersfield, Tadley, Twyford, Whitehill, Fordingbridge, Lyndhurst, New Milton and Portswood (Southampton).

£50m savings

Traditional stations in Cowes, Ventnor and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight are also earmarked for closure.

The announcement comes three months after a £30m eight-storey purpose-built police headquarters for Southampton was opened.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: "There is a need to make the estate more efficient to achieve significant savings in the region of £50m per year by 2014/15.

"However, at the same time, this is an opportunity for the force to develop its buildings to give the constabulary the best chance of achieving all of the chief constable's priorities, which include providing an excellent service and protecting communities from crime and harm.

"The estate review has identified a number of buildings, including police stations, which are earmarked for sale. As the owner of all force estate, the final decision on the future of any buildings is the responsibility of the police authority."

Image caption Hampshire Constabulary recently opened its £30m purpose-built Southampton headquarters

Det Ch Con Andy Marsh said: "The proposed changes won't happen overnight - they will take place over a number of years, and Hampshire Constabulary's commitment to an active presence in every neighbourhood is strong."

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, which represents the interests of officers up to the rank of superintendent, said: "Hampshire Police Federation understands the need to review the estate across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

"The current budget crisis has forced chief constables to make decisions which would have been unthinkable a short time ago.

"The police authority must ensure before any police station is closed a suitable alternative is in place to allow the public to have access to the police no matter where they live."

On Tuesday, Hampshire Constabulary announced plans to merge its traffic police with neighbouring Thames Valley Police.

The move would see up to 82 front-line officer posts axed.

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