Uncomfortable decisions to protect frontline policing

Witney Gazette: Colin Paine, Superintendent for West Oxfordshire and Cherwell, speaking at Witney Police Station about the closures of police stations to Oxford Mail reporter Ben Wilkinson. Picture OX60674 Simon Williams Buy this photo Colin Paine, Superintendent for West Oxfordshire and Cherwell, speaking at Witney Police Station about the closures of police stations to Oxford Mail reporter Ben Wilkinson. Picture OX60674 Simon Williams

Superintendent for West Oxfordshire and Cherwell Colin Paine talks about the  reasons behind changes to county police stations.

I was recently advised that we would need to replace Chipping Norton and Woodstock police stations with more efficient police stations.

Initially I wondered why on earth we would want to do that. ‘What is the point? I will just end up with a postbag full of complaints’ I thought to myself.

Indeed, Chipping Norton is a beautiful old Victorian station in a good central location, that many people, myself included, feel very fondly about.

As I talked through the replacement plans I began to see that by replacing these large expensive old buildings with newer more efficient buildings the Force could save very substantial sums of money on an ongoing basis.

I have always felt that it is my duty to get the very best value for the taxpayer – but here was a real opportunity to do so, an opportunity made all the more acute in these times of austerity.

I have asked myself what is most important; keeping the expensive buildings or providing the service to our public.

I was determined that I would not allow the very good crime reductions achieved in Chippy and Woodstock to be lost and so I committed that we would continue to provide the same front counter, patrol and neighbourhood officers at these locations – but no detriment to the service provided. These are not station closures, but station replacements.

Such decisions are uncomfortable, that is a given, but these decisions must be made in order to protect frontline policing. I am fortunate I have had no cuts to my officer numbers through these difficult times of austerity. I doubt there are many area commanders in other parts of the country who can say that.

I am also fortunate to lead such a committed team of professionals who will work whatever hours are required in any conditions in order to get the job done. It is therefore no surprise to me that crime continues to fall here.

Although there will be no change to Witney or the other police stations in West Oxfordshire it is nevertheless a little unsettling. It is not clear exactly where the new police stations will be located, although I know they will be based in Chippy and Woodstock.

However, one thing is certain; that the police will continue undeterred to serve Chipping Norton and Woodstock come what may.

Savings behind changes

IT was announced in March that Thames Valley Police was to shut and replace several bases in the county in a plan to save £829,000.

This week West Oxfordshire and Cherwell area police commander Supt Colin Paine added three police bases in his patch to that list.

Yet he assured the public they would not see a difference in quality of service when Chipping Norton police station, Charlbury police office, and Woodstock police station were all closed and staff moved to “more efficient” buildings.

In March it was revealed that Kidlington police station will close and merge with the force headquarters to save £26,300 per year. Some £500,000 will also be saved when seven satellite offices also move to Oxford Road.

Wood Farm police office in Atkyns Road, Oxford, will shut also permanently and officers will move to Cowley police station. Replacements will be found for offices in Barton and Rose Hill.

In January, the Oxford Mail reported Blackbird Leys police hub was to close but Thames Valley Police this month said it will either remain in Blackbird Leys Road in a reduced form or move nearby.

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