POLICE stations across the county could close, with bobbies moving into fire stations and council buildings, South Yorkshire’s new Chief Constable has revealed.
David Crompton, in an exclusive interview with The Star, said he was in talks with partners including local councils and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, about the possibility of sharing premises to save cash. But he said the aim was to make money for his force by selling off ageing buildings - not to do away with local bobbies.
The force has to save £40 million by 2015 after the Government cut police force budgets by 20 per cent.
“We are going to have to get rid of some properties the force owns,” said Chief Constable Crompton.
“Some of our stations are old, costly to run and maintain and we might need to get rid of them, but that’s not to say we would take all our police officers away - we would want to be looking for something else that would cost us less, with the possibility of us sharing premises with partners absolutely up for discussion.
“I don’t think the public would mind if we had police officers in their local fire station - they are more concerned they have police officers in their area, not where they are based.”
Chief Constable Crompton said he wants his force to recruit more special constables to help boost numbers on the streets. “I want us to increase the number of specials as much as we can - we have around 300 at the moment and I would like to see that up to 400 or 500. Our specials are a brilliant bunch and they put more hours in per special than virtually anywhere else in the country. You are always going to get people calling this policing on the cheap but they make a valuable contribution and make a difference.” He said he wants to champion what his force is good at to counterbalance the negativity surrounding Government cuts. “This job is still fundamentally about catching criminals and stopping crime,” he added. “We are still getting out there and tackling the problems in the communities that you tell us about - it’s what we joined to do and I am proud of people for standing up for it in the face of adversity.”
He wants officers to prioritise crimes involving burglaries, drugs, assaults including domestic violence and metal theft.
He said daily drug raids at the homes of suspected dealers and a drive to find rogue scrap traders weighing in stolen goods had ‘increased the risk’ for criminals and were reducing crime.