By Robert Mooney
THE CLOSURE of Weetwood Police Station’s public help desk is causing concern for local councillors.
As well as Weetwood, the help desk also covers Yeadon and Otley, with the nearest equivalent service being in Bradford, around 10 miles away.
Otley and Yeadon Ward Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem) said: “I am disappointed that the police have decided to close their doors to the public.
“Residents now have to travel over 10 miles to speak to a policeman.
“This is doubly irritating for Otley because the town has a police station which is used by a number of police teams – unfortunately members of the public cannot speak to them.”
Coun Campbell is calling on the Police and Crime Commissioner to “use some of the millions he has in reserves” to open up the public desk in Otley Police Station to serve residents of north west Leeds.
The closure is one of seven at police stations across West Yorkshire including Killingbeck, Morley, Lawcroft House in Bradford, Eccleshill, Shipley and Ilkley.
West Yorkshire Police chief constable John Robins, said: “It’s well known that the force’s budget must still be significantly reduced over the next four years and it is crucial that we continue to consider how best to use our resources to keep people safe.
“The survey and our own analysis highlights that in many of our current police stations, only a few people use public help desks each day and a significant number of them are attending pre-arranged appointments with officers.
“The vast majority of people are actually contacting us through other means.
“It is clearly not efficient to have public help desks open when they are not being used.”
He added the police are still committed to providing a service that is visible and accessible through frontline officers and PCSOs and that meets the needs of communities.
A police survey carried out earlier this year showed that 91 per cent of respondents had not used a public help desk in the last 12 months, with 61 per cent having never used one at all.
Despite this, the concern for local residents of both Yeadon and Otley is that reporting crime that is not an emergency will become more difficult.
Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem) said: “I am very disappointed about the closure of the Weetwood Police Station’s help desk.
“It was bad enough when Otley’s closed a few years back but I believe it makes the police less accessible and more remote.
“If a resident in Otley or Yeadon wants to discuss something in private or hand in some lost property they now have to travel miles to do so. I suspect many would no longer bother as it is too far, takes too much time and costs more money to visit a police station.”
A full list of police help desks remaining open can be found here.