Rural towns to lose 999 team status

Swaffham and Watton police stations are to lose their 999 response teams.They are among 29 out of 35 stations across Norfolk to be affected by a major shake-up in the way Norfolk Police respond to emergencies.

Swaffham and Watton police stations are to lose their 999 response teams.

They are among 29 out of 35 stations across Norfolk to be affected by a major shake-up in the way Norfolk Police respond to emergencies.

It means victims of crime will no longer be visited by a local bobby after dialling 999 - with officers from urban centres instead being called out.

Senior officers moved to reassure the public over the decision to cut the number of response stations, which despatch teams to 999 reports, from 35 to just six - including Thetford. The others are at Norwich, Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Fakenham and Aylsham.


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At the same time, chief constable Ian McPherson confirmed he has secured funding for 140 new officers and the move will free up another 100. Most of these extra officers will go on

the beat.

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He said the response team review would not compromise the service to the public and is aimed at improving service in crime hotspots. But members of the rank and file are concerned the move could leave isolated parts exposed at various gaps throughout the day, such as shift changeovers each morning and evening.

Safer neighbourhood teams will still operate from the affected bases and the extra officer numbers will actually see more bodies at each station. Response teams will be supported by armed officers and road policing units.

Police Federation chairman Malcolm Sneesby said: “Response teams aim to provide an immediate response to all genuine 999 calls. In urban areas this means within 10 minutes and in rural areas within 20.

“Our concern is whether officers will be able to maintain that level of service given that Norfolk's road network does not lend itself to travelling long distances in a short space of time.”

Mr Sneesby added that this, along with plans to replace the county's 12-hour shift pattern with eight and 10-hour shifts, had hit morale among some bobbies.

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