VILLAGES and small towns are bearing the brunt of police station closures, reveals a survey.
One third of police stations have closed or are set to close, forcing rural residents to report crimes to officers many miles away, it found.
The Sunday Telegraph survey of the 43 police forces in England and Wales found that at least 361 of some 1300 police stations have closed to the public in the last two years or are due to be shut.
Two-thirds of the closures are in small towns and villages, the newspaper reported on Sunday (18 March).
Some stations are closing down permanently, said the paper.
Others were reducing their services and moving into makeshift offices known as "police points" in larger towns and city centres.
Police said a 20% cut in government funding made the closures necessary.
But the paper reported critics saying the decision to close large numbers of traditional "blue lamp" stations would leave communities vulnerable.
Countryside Alliance Jill Grieve said the closures would lead to a complete breakdown in relationships between police officers and rural communities.
"The rural population is getting older and they won't feel comforted when they're told they should call a 101 number or go online to report a crime."
Some of those with the biggest number of closures are Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire.
Hampshire, has seen 18 of its 47 stations are sold off, Gloucestershire is selling off 18 of its 29 stations, and Nottinghamshire is closing 15 of its 42 stations.
Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall has closed the front counters of 35 out of 57 stations, while Lancashire plans to shut 14 stations and some 12 rural bases.
The Sunday Telegraph article can be read here.
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