Tough cuts mean bobbies or buildings must go, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner declared as he announced plans to close half of the county’s police stations.
The constabulary will close 58 buildings across the region as part of a strict three-year plan of cuts – including many community stations.
Crime commissioner Alan Charles unveiled the plans in a report presented to the Strategic Governance Board on Tuesday.
He said: “The force will shrink and be totally different at the end of the decade in comparison to what it was at the start of it.
“There were over 100 buildings in Derbyshire but we are having to rationalise and reduce our estate by half.
“That means we have to make tough cuts and it was simply a question of bobbies or buildings?
“The government has take money from frontline policing to prop up bureaucracy – it is unacceptable. The consequences of the cuts will take the government back 30 years.”
Chief Constable Mick Creedon, who was also at the meeting, said that the level of cuts were unprecedented and way beyond what anyone could have imagined for the future of policing in Derbyshire.
Stations in most divisions of the county-wide force have been affected. In B Division, Ashbourne, Bakewell, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Hadfield, Fairfield, Gamesley, Whaley Bridge and Wirksworth are affected.
In C Division the affected stations are Alfreton Connaught Court, Codnor, Dronfield, Eckington, Grassmoor, Heage, Heanor, Ironville, Kilburn, Langley Mill, Leabrooks, Riddings, Tupton and Wingerworth.
D Division will face the cuts at Ilkeston, Kirk Hallam and Long Eaton – with plans to merge the Ilkeston and Long Eaton sites.
The plans, which aim to save more than £1 million in D division alone, will see a reduction in the number of safer neighbourhood team officers and police community support officers.
The overall number of police officers is also expected to fall by 64 over the next year with more reductions in 2016 and 2017, with more by the end of 2019.
Mr Charles said it was a result of the “debilitating” funding cuts imposed by the government.
An increase of 1.99 per cent council tax was also approved at the meeting, in a bid to balance the budget.
He said: “We are working very hard to minimise the risks of our financial difficulties on public safety but this will inevitably result in changes, including fewer police officers and staff, changes to roles and a reduced number of police buildings. Difficult decisions will continue to be made based on threat, risk and demand.
“Increasing the precept this year will enable us to take some of the sting out of the current cuts and strengthen our base budget in the future. Despite these current difficulties the Chief Constable and I remain totally committed to shaping a service that will deliver the best performance possible.”
Chief Constable Creedon said the majority of the buildings being closed have few officers within them and are not regularly visited by the public. He said the force has had to prioritise people over buildings to protect services and channel funds into the most critical areas.
He said: “This does not mean that the public won’t be concerned about their closure but we have had to prioritise the people who deliver a policing service over the buildings that they operate from,”
Since 2010, the force has shaved £24m off the budget, which was achieved through some very difficult choices including a freeze on police officer recruitment levels and a reduction of some 162 police officers and 269 staffing posts. By 2019/20 there is a projected reduction of 260 police officers.