The mayor of Diss has expressed his disappointment following the announcement that the town’s police station will shut to the public later this year.
Norfolk Constabulary confirmed Diss Public Enquiry Office (PEO), in Stanley Road, was among four police PEOs across south Norfolk, including one in London Road, Attleborough, that was closing their front desks from April 1, as part of the force’s ongoing cost-cutting measures which aim to save £25 million by 2020.
Reduced or changed hours will also come into effect at other PEOs located throughout the county by July, all with the intention of cutting more than £360,000 from the costs of running the offices.
Diss town mayor Keith Kiddie told the Diss Express: “Of course, we are disappointed. The police station has been a central part of Diss and a great comfort to people.
“We are very fortunate in south Norfolk to live in a low crime area. However, crime is very personal thing for anyone to be a victim of, so it’s not a simple numbers game.
“It’s disappointing as often it (the police station) is the first port of call and that won’t be available any more. But I suppose at the end of the day it’s the least worst situation.”
A Norfolk police statement indicated the buildings suffering from closures will continue to be used as operational police bases, with plans being put in place to ensure local communities still have access to their officers.
Yellow phones installed outside each of the PEOs will remain in place and usable 24 hours a day, transferring callers through to the police control room or another open office.
The announcement follows recent proposals by Norfolk police to enter into match-funding partnerships with local town councils, including Diss and Harleston, for the purpose of delivering new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in these areas.
Diss Town Council rejected the PSCO plan, which is thought to have required an outlay of around £17,000, at their last meeting, with councillors criticising the constabulary for the proposal’s timing just after the council’s portion of the council tax had been finalised.
Cllr Kiddie said: “We had already gone through the entire precept process. If it had been done at another time, we might have been able to consider something.”
“I feel saddened that they (Norfolk police) are adopting a reactive stance rather than a proactive one,” he added.
Norfolk Constabulary has stated these measures are “to bridge the funding gap in the coming years with a view to preserving frontline resources as far as possible.”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nick Dean, who leads the constabulary on local policing services, said: “Cuts to the police budget mean we have to make some difficult decisions in order to maintain visibility and maximize front line officer numbers. This is the reality of our situation.
“It is a fact that fewer people now pop into a police station, preferring instead to use telephone or online services.
“The front counters earmarked for closure see some of the lowest footfall in the county. It will not affect our commitment to policing in the affected areas nor the opportunity for the public to meet and speak with local officers on a regular basis.”