Surrey Police stations plan concerns former inspector

Image caption,
Surrey Police says many police stations are in poor locations

A former Surrey Police inspector has said the force will never go back to proper policing in the county if plans to close police stations go ahead.

More than 20 are under threat, with the force saying they are underused and that closing them would save £2m a year and put 200 more officers on the beat.

Mike Ledwidge, who was with the force for 28 years, said the move would cause irreversible damage.

"If we sell off these police stations we will never get them back," he said.

Surrey Police Authority has launched an online public consultation to discover people's views about the changes.

Under the plans being considered, police counter services could be installed in town halls and shopping centres, with the force saying no building would close unless residents had been consulted and a better alternative found.

But Mr Ledwidge said "policing locally with local response teams" was the better option.

"We should have small response teams based in each town centre so that when they're doing paperwork they can just drop their paperwork and get out of the door and be in the high street," he told BBC Surrey.

In response, Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm said the key issue was "engagement with the public and putting them in places where they actually meet the public and the public can meet them".

He said some police stations were in very poor locations and in very poor condition, costing the Surrey taxpayer "a fortune".

"These changes mean that we can be much more effective in the way we police and we can put up to 200 more police on the streets.

"I don't think it's a different decision for us in the terms of policing"

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