Campaigners hit out at police station

Campaigners have described the current situation surrounding Royston Police Station as “absolutely awful.”

The station has attracted criticism from residents for being completely closed on three days of the week, meaning it is often problematic to report crimes, hand in lost property or have a relationship with local officers.

Now, after a year of campaigning, collecting names for a petition, and meeting police officials campaigners Terry Hutt and Chris East have hit back at the situation.

“People that pay their council tax have the right to expect a policeman, but around here we do not see one on the beat,” said Mr Hutt of The Shambles, Whaddon.

“People don’t feel as safe without a local policemen. I have heard of incidents where people have phoned police and there is simply not one in the area.”

Mr Hutt has been collecting names on a petition for just under a year and so far has 500 names “without even trying.”

He even took the petition up to New Scotland Yard last year and attempted to post it through the police headquarters’ letter box.

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He was eventually manhandled by security in an incident that was shown on local news.

Chris East of Shrubbery Grove, Royston, who met with police officials over a year ago to discuss the situation, said: “They slashed the opening hours at the station by 80 per cent in January last year.

“The council website tells you the opening hours but says to ring ahead to make sure someone is there before you come. What sort of police station is that?”

“People have told me it’s good that I am campaigning, but we pay our taxes, so why should we have to volunteer for this?”

Mr East also lamented the stability of the staffing at the station.

“There is no continuity of staff there. I heard of someone complaining about a traffic incident and the officer didn’t even know where the road was.

“It is part of the ten principles of policing that the police must have a relationship with the public and they have completely lost this in Royston.

“Lost property is regularly dumped outside as there is no one there to take it in.”

The current system has a phone placed outside the station, which goes through to the police’s force control room, a service Mr East described as “absolutely awful.”

“You can image trying to explain something to someone who doesn’t know Royston who is not face to face, especially when they often use technical jargon.”

Despite the current fears, Mr East admitted he is “fairly confident” the station will eventually be open on a more regular basis.

A police statement said: “It is important to stress that no police station is closing – they all remain operational police stations.

“A closed front counter does not mean that police are not available to help or advise you.

“Signs at all police stations inform you of alternative ways to contact police and direct you to the nearest station with extended front counter opening hours if you do need to speak to an enquiry officer in person.

“Significant growth in the use of telephones, email and other technology to contact the Constabulary have significantly reduced the number of visitors to most of our front counters.

“If you do need to visit, please check the opening times on our website before you travel.”