UTTOXETER Police Station’s future lies in the balance as the estates review that could spell the end for the historic building gets underway.
Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis told the Advertiser no decision will be made until after Christmas ‘at the earliest’.
But Mr Ellis did say the need for larger stations like Uttoxeter’s will diminish when new technological advances are introduced.
He said: “I’ve spoken to a lot of officers who need information only available from their station and have intended to pop in for ten minutes but are there hours later.
“If they can get that information from mobile devices and tablets, that will enable them to do much more practical police work.
“The strategy has to be aimed at ensuring that, within 18 months, an officer standing in a field in rural Uttoxeter will have access to more information than they would behind a desk in a police station.
“We will only keep Uttoxeter Police Station open if it strategically serves a purpose.”
Mr Ellis said that, if the station closes, two or three smaller police posts could open up in town.
He also promised to introduce ‘a modern version of the village bobby’ in the form of special constables dedicated to policing Uttoxeter.
He said: “I want to see policing much closer to smaller communities and around 300 posts will be filled to that effect.
“I’m aiming to create a sense of permanence back into communities so that, as you drive out from your house, you’ll see the same faces patrolling the beat.
“We’ll certainly have fewer officers in the future – although more than we’d have had under the plans I inherited – but more of them out in the community.”
The commissioner’s policy to try and get public services including the job centre, council services and police under the same roof has also be reiterated.
Mr Ellis said: “There are a lot of intrinsically-linked factors that need to be taken into account as part of this review.
“Keeping services under one roof will collectively save a lot of money and be more convenient for the public.”
Mr Ellis had previously pledged to ensure a ‘much more visible police presence’ in town by the end of the year.
The estates review, which could also see Staffordshire Police’s mothballed HQ, which costs taxpayers £1 million a year, closed.
It comes a year after an officer blew the lid on how under-resourced Uttoxeter was.
The whistle-blower revealed that Uttoxeter’s station is sometimes left completely unmanned.
Last week, Mr Ellis said he may provide funds that could be used to protect, and even improve, Uttoxeter’s under-threat network of CCTV cameras.
It was revealed two months ago that East Staffordshire Borough Council is conducting a review of its camera systems that could see up to 11 in Uttoxeter decommissioned.