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2 August 2017
Wiltshire police will close and sell ten underused police stations as it looks save £900,000 a year by 2021.
Wilton, Alderbury and Amesbury police stations are among those the force will offload as it looks to share buildings with the council or other emergency services.
And police commissioner Angus Macpherson's estates strategy today confirmed that he had scrapped plans for a new custody unit at Warminster (reported by the Journal on March 9).
Since the closure of Salisbury's Wilton Road police station in June 2014 there have been two custody units in the county, one in Swindon and one in Melksham.
Mr Macpherson said this was "sufficient" and prisoner numbers did not justify spending up to £11m of public money to move a custody unit 12 miles.
He said his ambition to cut 20 per cent of the force's £4.5m annual estates budget was not driven by austerity.
"This is about being more efficient with the public’s money," he said.
Under the new plan there will be eight community policing hubs in major towns.
The force's headquarters in Devizes and Warminster police station are deemed unfit for purpose.
A community hub at Tidworth will serve the town and Amesbury.
Tisbury police station closed earlier this year and officers now use space in the council’s Nadder Centre.
Salisbury police already share space with Wiltshire Council at Bourne Hill.
Mr Macpherson said the changes would "ensure that public funds are spent on frontline policing rather than unnecessary and sometimes old and costly buildings".
He said: "Every pound we save on running our estate is a pound we will not have to save from policing."
Inspector David Ibbott, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, the body representing officers on the ground, said: "There is no doubt that there are some buildings within the force that are not up to modern days standards and the Police Federation welcomes the promise of further investment into making the current infrastructure fit for purpose.
"But the Federation is also wary of such promises as was clearly demonstrated in the closure of the Salisbury Custody unit a few years ago in 2014 on the undertaking of a new and modern unit for the city and the surrounding areas which sadly never materialised due to the current austerity measures introduced by the government.
"The facts are that officer numbers have fallen and crime rates have risen.
"As crime rises one would expect to see a rise in demand for a custody unit as officers arrest more suspects for the increased number of offences committed.
"It is the federation's view that this not happening because we have over 250 fewer officers out there since 2010 doing the job of bringing offenders to justice and this is reflected in the reduced demand on the custody units.
"The Police federation is not convinced that the current drive of reducing police officer numbers is the correct path to take.
"We would welcome the prospect that if any savings are made that there would be a commitment for it to be reinvested in an increase in Wiltshire Police officer numbers which we believe is what the public wants and expects."