Herald Comment: Is a cut in police counter hours really a good move to modernise the force?

ON the day it was announced that Lancashire Police is to lose 165 police officers in an austerity drive to make £73 million savings, it seems somewhat churlish to be critical that Eastbourne’s main police station is to be open for fewer hours.

Sussex Police is facing the same sort of belt-tightening as its Lancastrian counterparts while looking to make £52 million worth of savings by 2015.

And in a seemingly ever-changing financial climate, the police, just as other businesses, are seeking to take advantage of any economies of scale and partnerships to achieve these goals while minimising the impact on front-line services.

From next month, Eastbourne police’s front counter services will move to 1 Grove Road in the same building as the borough council. So at the same time as reporting a crime, you can also sort out your council tax or check out a neighbour’s extension plans.

The spin doctors will want to persuade us how this is a good move to modernise the force.

The bottom line is that the police front counter in the town centre will be open for fewer hours - from the current 9am to 8pm on Monday to Saturday, to 9am to 5pm six days a week.

We live in a results-driven society where crime detection targets sit top of an agenda shared by the Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner. They and the police will be judged on how wise a move this is when the annual crime figures are produced, to see if the public’s confidence in their police is maintained.