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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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Tynedale: ‘Station closures will lead to crime’

A BELLINGHAM resident who served in the front line with the Metropolitan Police for more than 12 years has delivered a stark warning.

Frank Young (55), who retired from Northumbria Police last year, has predicted a surge of criminal activity in the areas which are to lose their police stations as part of swingeing cutbacks planned within the police force.

With Northumbria looking to save £46m by 2017, it was announced that the stations in Bellingham, Ponteland, Prudhoe, Haltwhistle and Corbridge are included in the list of 25 to close. This would mean Hexham would be the only one in the district to survive the axe.

Included in the proposed cutbacks is a loss of 200 senior officers and 230 civilian staff jobs, almost certain to bring an end to the beat bobby in these areas.

Mr Young (pictured) who worked his way up to detective constable with the Met in London, thinks the lack of a visible presence in the community will bring with it disastrous results.

“The rural community feel that we are being neglected at the cost of the larger populations across the force,” he said. “Response times are going to be a concern even though Chief Constable Sue Sim has said there will be community officers regularly based in community halls and libraries. I would like to know where and how accessible they are.

“Even though the station at Bellingham was often closed, there would often be a light on when officers were writing a report or having a refreshment break and that was reassuring to local people knowing there was someone there if anything happened.

“A police station in any community is a deterrent to all criminals and it will not be long before word spreads, and I am concerned there will be more crime in the rural areas.”

While Mr Young was critical of the proposed cuts, he spoke highly of Northumbria Police where he spent the last 10 years of his working life. He claimed it was a brilliant force to work for.