Top cop brands MP’s campaign ‘unrealistic’

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CALDERDALE’S top cop says a campaign to re-open a town’s police station to the public is “unrealistic” in the face of Government spending cuts.

Halifax’s MP Linda Riordan has joined forces with Labour candidate for Sowerby Bridge Dave Draycott to call for the town’s police station to re-open so that people can call in.

Police officers are working from the station, on Station Road, but its front counter was shut as part of a West Yorkshire-wide scheme several years ago.

Former Conservative Parliamentary candidate Philip Allot and Calderdale Councillor Martin Peel (Con, Sowerby Bridge) called for the same action this time last year, collecting 1,000 signatures on a petition.

Mrs Riordan says she has more than 500 people signed up so far, and believes re-opening the station to the public would cut crime in the long run.

“With Government cuts starting to bite, it is important that we return to a policy of local policing in local communities,” she said.

“People like the reassurance of a local police presence, and what better way to do this than to re-open Sowerby Bridge police station?

“It’s about the value of the local policing service, not just the price of it.

“Sowerby Bridge residents want to see the station open and the police should be responsive to their wishes. In the long run I am sure it will help cut crime, thus saving money and freeing up other police to be a visible presence in the local community.

“A town the size of Sowerby Bridge should have a police station open to the public and that’s why so many people are signing the petition.”

But Calderdale Police’s divisional commander Chief Superintendent Alan Ford said the force would struggle to afford the idea.

“I’m afraid that in the current financial climate, the suggestion is unrealistic,” he said. “Of course in an ideal world we would open to the public in every town in Calderdale.

“We are all working extremely hard just to retain the levels of service we currently offer.

“To find new members of staff required to open the public counter and equip the counter to deal with members of the public would cost tens of thousands of pounds a year. That sort of money just doesn’t exist.

“The only way we could open the front counter would be by taking a frontline officer away from the beat and putting them behind a counter - I cannot imagine any community being happy with that. If any volunteers are willing to give their time freely to help to open a public counter, then of course we are happy to hear from them.”

lShould the money be found to open Sowerby Bridge Police station to the public? Email yoursay@halifaxcourier.co.uk