Police accused of wasting beat time

Coun Stephen Robinson
Coun Stephen Robinson
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Police officers are spending less time on the beat in South Ribble because of a station closure, community leaders have been told.

Neighbourhood policing officers have to travel to Leyland headquarters for a briefing at the start of each shift, since the local police station on Liverpool Road, Penwortham, closed down.

Town councillors have raised concerns that the practice means they are spending less time patrolling in Penwortham.

A local officer told a town council meeting that having a briefing, collecting equipment and travelling from Leyland to Penwortham could mean they were spending 30 minutes to an hour less per shift in Penwortham.

Town councillors have queried if beat officers could be allowed to start their shifts from the police office at Penwortham Community Centre in Kingsfold to save travel time.

Howick and Priory Coun Stephen Robinson said: “In order to register for the start of a shift, the officers have to go to Leyland first and it takes time away from the beat in Penwortham.

“They have got an office in Penwortham Community Centre and we would think they could ‘clock on’ remotely from there. I don’t know what the internal proecudres are. We have raised the question but, at the moment, it doesn’t seem to be an option.”

Police bosses shut the front desk at Penwortham in November 2010 to save cash, saying the number of enquiries made there was relatively small.

The station then shut completely last year, though visitors can use a yellow phone outside the station to make direct contact with an officer if needed.

The facility was closed as part of a huge review which saw 45 stations earmarked for the axe last year.

Police bosses said it would save £1m a year in annual running costs and raise another £4m through sales of buildings, as it struggles to deal with funding cuts.

A Lancashire police spokesman said: “Since the front counters review was completed, working practices have changed across the force but we would reassure people that response times and police visibility have not been adversely affected by the changes.

“Neighbourhood policing officers that patrol Penwortham and other areas of South Ribble routinely begin their tour of duty at the divisional headquarters in Leyland where they collect their equipment and undertake a though briefing in which they are tasked and given their priorities for their shifts.

“The briefing process is designed to be as efficient as possible to ensure officers spend the maximum time possible out on the beat.”