FIVE police stations from across St Helens have been shut to the public.
The enquiry offices at Billinge and Eccleston police stations, as well as the sub-stations in Rainford, Thatto Heath and Sutton, closed for the last time on Monday.
The closure were first announced in October last year as part of a round of cost-saving measures implemented to cope with public sector cuts.
Police chiefs argue that with less resources officers’ time is better used patrolling streets than manning enquiry offices, insisting some enquiry offices at smaller stations are rarely used by the public.
Superintendent Kevin Johnson said: “In all the changes we have made we have focused on what the public tell us is important; maintaining a visible policing presence, answering your calls within our target time and attending, both emergency and non-emergency calls, within our agreed target time.
“No police stations will close but as part of the cost savings, the number of GEOs across the force will reduce from 34 to 12.
“I would like to reassure our communities that residents in every area will continue to have access to a 24-hour police station within their local area and another that is open from 8am until 10pm.”
Police also insist members of the public can still contact the force over the phone, at community meetings, online and surgeries in libraries and shops.
Sutton ward coucillor Brian Spencer (pictured) said he would be seeking assurances the force would be putting measures in place to ensure the public still had easy access to police.
He said: “I understand times are tight but I can’t say I’m happy about this. I certainly would have prefered for it to stay open.
“I’ll be speaking to the local inspector to make sure the people of Sutton still have a contact point with their local police team.”
The enquiry offices at St Helens and Newton police stations are unaffected by the changes. Billinge and Eccleston were open for four hours a day, wile the sub-stations only opened for two-hours slot, three times a week.
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