Policing shake-up as resort station set to close

Ch Insp Lee Wilson
Ch Insp Lee Wilson
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Blackpool’s South Shore police station is set to close as part of a shake up of crime-fighting in the resort which will see officers based at a school and the town hall in future.

The changes are coming into force as the resort prepares for the replacement of Bonny Street Police Station with new divisional headquarters on Clifton Road in Marton.

In future neighbourhood policing teams will be based at Revoe Primary School, Talbot and Brunswick Children’s Centre, @The Grange at Grange Park, Municipal Buildings in Market Street and Bispham Police Station.

But it means the loss of South Shore Police Station on Montague Street.

Its public inquiry desk has been closed since 2012 and the only officers currently based there are from the neighbourhood policing team, not response officers.

Ch Insp Lee Wilson, who heads up the town’s uniformed police presence, said: “South Shore police station has been surplus for a number of years and the time is right now to move on.

“The costs of operating it are prohibitive and we have thought long and hard about this decision.

“A lot of these changes are being brought about because we haven’t got the police numbers we had so we have to look at different ways of working.

“That means working even more closely with our partners, understanding the risk and deploying accordingly.”

Blackpool’s new police station is expected to become operational in July, and will be the base for emergency response officers and house the town’s cells.

Response officers will also continue to be based at Fleetwood.

Ch Insp Wilson said: “The challenge for us will be to keep officers in their vehicles out in the areas they cover so they are not responding from the operating base.

“Lancashire Constabulary has invested heavily in IT so officers don’t need to keep returning to a police station.

“They have body worn video for example to capture evidence and IT so they can process some detainees electronically.”

Space within the council’s Municipal Buildings has been converted in order to maintain a public inquiry desk in the town centre which will be accessed from Market Street.

This is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. It will also provide a base for the Nightsafe team which polices the resort’s pub and club scene at weekends.

Ch Insp Wilson said: “This will create greater opportunities for closer working with the council enforcement teams.

“We know there are a lot of ongoing problems in the town centre around begging, drunkeness and rough sleepers.

“The town centre office will also be a base for policing large public events such as Livewire, the Switch-on and the Fireworks Championships.

“We want people to feel safe at these events because hopefully that means they will come back to Blackpool again and that is important.

“We have to retain a policing presence in the town centre and key areas around, and that’s what we’re intending to do.”

Coun Derek Robertson, who represents Waterloo ward on Blackpool Council, said he was dismayed Blackpool South Station was to close.

He said: “The local councillors were briefed by the inspector who told us South Shore police station is closing in July.

“We know there will be officers based with neighbourhood teams elsewhere, but we’re worried there will be none on this side of Lytham Road which is very busy during the main tourist season.

“I think most residents would want to keep it open.

“We get a lot of issues in this part of South Shore so it’s important there is a quick response to anything.”

Ch Insp Wilson said emergency response for the area had been covered from Bonny Street since 2012. He added; “That has worked and there has not been a noticeable dip in satisfaction from members of the public.”