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Police Station (Wombourne, South Staffordshire)

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 20 July 2011

The Petition of residents of the South Staffordshire constituency, and others,

Declares that the Police Station in Wombourne is being considered for closure; and further declares that Wombourne has a population of 14,000 who depend upon the service that it provides.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that the police station or a new alternative station is opened in the village of Wombourne to serve its residents and those in the local area.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Gavin Williamson, Official Report, 16 March 2011; Vol. 444, c. 525.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

Decisions about the number, location and operation of police stations in a force area are matters for the Chief Constable in conjunction with the Police Authority. Police stations are assets of the local Police Authority; in future they will be assets of the elected Police and Crime Commissioners that the Government are introducing in each force area to give the public a greater voice in how they are policed and to replace bureaucratic control with democratic accountability.

The Government attach great importance to the accessibility of police services, but modern policing reaches people through many means, not just police stations. People may text or go online to contact the police rather than go to the traditional police station. There are other ways for the police to have a footprint or base in an area, for instance many forces have devised innovative ways of increasing their accessibility to the public through co-locating with councils or other local services, having shop fronts on a local parade, or holding surgeries in community buildings. These can provide opportunities for contact with far more people than those who would visit a police station.

In addition, better management and organisation can increase police availability to the public. For example, a recent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary shows a very large variation in the visibility and availability of police officers to the public. Accordingly, despite decreasing central government funding, there is still considerable scope for forces to improve their service to the public—for example, through deploying officers via shift patterns which reflect the demand for service from the public.

The Government have provided the police with a challenging but manageable funding settlement, one which recognises that substantial savings can be made by transforming the way policing services are provided. Forces will need to rethink the way in which they deliver services for the public and consider the full range of options that are open to them in order to maintain and improve frontline services while making the necessary savings. The Government have a role to play in supporting forces, but the primary responsibility for making the necessary changes is local.