Calls for new police and crime commissioner to reopen police stations in Northumberland

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The new police and crime commissioner for Northumbria is facing calls to reopen rural stations just days into the job.

Labour’s Susan Dungworth was elected on May 5 to serve as PCC for the Northumbria force area, succeeding Kim McGuinness after the latter became North East mayor.

Now, Conservative councillors are calling on the new commissioner to set out a timescale on the reopening of 14 stations and desks closed in recent years.

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Northumbria Police announced plans in 2021 to permanently close 14 of its 23 front offices across the region, claiming the move would make services more cost-effective.

The new Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth. Photo: NCJ Media.The new Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth. Photo: NCJ Media.
The new Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Susan Dungworth. Photo: NCJ Media.

However, the scheme proved controversial with local residents, with particular fears over the impact on the elderly.

Coun Gordon Stewart, cabinet member for communities at Tory-led Northumberland County Council, called on Mrs Dungworth to tackle the issue “as a matter of urgency”.

The Prudhoe South councillor said: “I call upon her to reinstate police stations and police desks closed under her predecessor.

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“I was critical at the time about the lack of evidence-based information and the excuse for a consultation which led to the closures across the county including in Prudhoe. I ask that the PCC works with me and council officers to review the options, and get the police presence back in place very quickly, and for her to publish a timetable for the reopenings.

“The rural crime team play a big part in ensuring many communities feel protected. Highly skilled and well equipped officers work alongside a range of custodians of the countryside, such as national park officers.

Stations in Ashington, Cramlington, Blyth and Morpeth were closed. However, in March the force announced it would trial extended opening hours at Hexham, Berwick and Alnwick.

Mrs Dungworth said: “Northumbria Police is currently trialling extended opening hours at Hexham, Alnwick and Berwick and will do so for the foreseeable future while usage is monitored at different times of the year. This information will then inform any future decisions around the affordability of reopening stations.

"In the meantime, I will be doing everything in my power to support officers and deliver safer streets and stronger communities for the people of Northumberland and throughout the force area.”