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Police drop relocation plans for Bishop's Waltham patrol team
PLANS to downgrade Bishop’s Waltham Police Station have been dropped, say Hampshire Police.
Enquiries by the Chronicle prompted the constabulary to say it had been considering relocating ten officers in its targeted patrol team to Winchester.
The move raised concerns about quality of service, including longer response times to incidents in the Meon Valley.
The changes would have meant that Bishop’s Waltham station seeing a drop in police and PCSOs from around 22 to 11. The Safer Neighbourhood Team of five officers would remain.
When asked about the plan, the district commander Chief Inspector Darius Hemmatpour said, in a statement: “We are constantly looking at ways in which we can deploy our staff in order to provide the best possible service for our communities.
“Any changes that are considered will not affect policing coverage in the area as we recognise that the community benefits from a dedicated response team with local knowledge.
“A response team with the ability to respond to incidents quickly will still be based in the rural area and there will be no adverse affect on response times.
“It is important to recognise that Bishop’s Waltham police station is also home to a Safer Neighbourhoods team consisting of police officers and police community support officers who are available to respond to incidents and offer support to the public.”
Later a police spokeswoman said: “Discussion took place about the TPT starting their shift and being briefed by a sergeant at North Walls. At the moment that is not going to happen. It may be revived in the future.”
It was unclear what has prompted the rethink.
A police officer, who asked not to be named, said: “This is purely about cost-saving. But there will be a 30-minute run to some calls in places like Knowle Village. The public have not been consulted.
“The police will argue that the Meon Valley will still be policed from Winchester. But resources will be diverted into the city. The officers are snowed under too with paperwork.”
Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner, said he was assured the future of bishop’s Waltham was not in doubt.
But he added: “We have to save £55m over three years and a further £25m over the next two. We have to look at how we are operating.
“We are putting together an estates strategy and Bishop’s Waltham is part of that. It is not logical to downgrade it and have a building with people rattling around.”
Winchester city councillor David McLean, who represents Bishop’s Waltham, said of the TPT relocation: “If this is correct then it’s a shock because we were recently reassured that the Meon Valley station would remain the hub for the valley.
“If most of them are based in Winchester, then with the best will in the world, that is a 20-minute drive to Bishop’s Waltham.
“But I have spoken to the chief inspector and he assures me that the fast response vehicle will continue to start and finish its shift in Bishop’s Waltham and that the safer neighbourhoods team will remain in the town.”
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