Front desks at police stations close to public
THE shutters are coming down on the front desks of police stations across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
By the end of the month only two stations in South Wales Police's western division will have public access — and only one of those will be available 24 hours a day.
The move is part of a cost-cutting programme by the force — but the most senior officer in the division has said he remains committed to neighbourhood policing.
Over the past year Cymmer, Pontardawe, Gorseinon, Mumbles and Morriston police stations have axed their public access.
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Cockett in Swansea and Port Talbot will lose their front desks at the end of September, leaving just Swansea Central and Neath open to the public — Swansea around the clock and Neath from 8am to midnight.
Chief superintendent Mark Mathias said: "If I had the choice I would keep the front desks open — but the fact is we haven't got the money.
"We have got to use our resources as efficiently as possible.
"Police officers will still be working from the stations but we cannot keep the front desks open — I want to be very upfront with people about that.
"I know the public reassurance of having staff available is important but, to be honest, if it comes down to a simple business case, stations would have been closed years ago."
Last year it was revealed that prior to closing the front desk at Morriston police station, just three people had walked in off the street over the course of a weekend — but the desk still had to be fully manned.
Mr Mathias said there were other ways people could meet their local officers, from Pact meetings to surgeries, community visits and innovative schemes such as the one on Gower where PCSOs travel with the mobile library service to rural villages.
The chief super added he remained committed to neighbourhood policing and that more PCSOs would soon be hitting the streets across the division.
He also said he was putting more investment into areas such as child protection, domestic violence and dealing with serious offenders.