The closure of front desk facilities at Milford Haven police station was a hot topic at Milford Haven Town Council when councillors grilled Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon.
Councillors expressed concerns that Milford Haven was inadequately policed, at the full town council meeting on Monday (January 28).
Cllr Eric Harries said: “I’ve had many meetings with the police, and I can assure you that the issue here is the contention that the second largest town in Pembrokeshire is inadequately policed.
“It needs to be reinforced and re-emphasised that a town of this size, with a large concentration of industry, needs more police presence.”
Cllr Harries said that on many occasions he received no answer when pressing the buzzer at the station.
He added: “There is no evidence of any police being there. I’ve done that on a number of occasions and spoke to someone so remote from the area that I doubt they could be sure where the town of Milford Haven was, never mind Hilton Avenue.”
Mr Salmon said that £27,000 a year was saved by closing the front desk at Milford Haven police station, which on average received eight visitors a day.
He said: I completely take your point, but we must bear in mind that when we have discussions, we cannot get everything we want. Would you rather someone sit behind the desk, or be out on the street in the neighbourhood? That’s the balance that we have to strike.”
Mr Salmon said that the front desk decision, which was “driven largely by cost and how to find savings”, was under constant review.
He added that he will be assessing the effectiveness of mobile police units, and whether joint front desks services - either with the town council, or another public sector business - were really an option for the area.
But he said that the police station itself, which costs £20,000 a year to run, was not under threat because Milford Haven needed an operational police base.
“But as far as the people of Milford Haven are concerned, it’s closed to them," said Cllr John Cole.
Cllr William Elliott suggested introducing a Special Constable volunteering scheme that would allow front desks to stay open.
Mr Salmon said: “I think we have very motivated and capable officers. There is a huge amount of potential in the police, there’s a huge number of ideas about how to provide services, but they are not always heard.
“We’ve gone through the period of slimming down, that process has got as far as it can go. What we now need to look at is what we’re doing, and how to provide it.”