The Government is being warned that people feel “unsafe on their own streets” as new analysis suggests more then 200 police stations and counters have closed in the past seven years.
The Liberal Democrats said the figures, which the party obtained under freedom of information laws, equate to the loss of more than one site every two weeks.
It said a total of 217 stations and counters in England and Wales were shut from 2015 to 2021, with an average of 31 closures a year.
London and the South East in particular have seen a “staggering fall” in numbers, the party said, with Thames Valley Police closing the most sites – 23 stations and 44 counters.
Too many people feel unsafe on their own streets, and too many criminals are getting away with itSir Ed Davey
Ahead of the local elections in May, the Lib Dems are promoting a three-point plan to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
This would involve restoring “proper community policing”, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people; and reversing cuts to youth services by investing an extra £500 million a year through a ring-fenced fund to local authorities, it said.
The party also wants to scrap police and crime commissioners and invest what it says will equate to £50 million in savings in frontline policing and solving crimes.
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Shuttered police stations have become a symbol of the Conservatives’ failure on crime. Too many people feel unsafe on their own streets, and too many criminals are getting away with it.
“The Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on cutting crime.
“This May people will have a chance to send Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a message. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for more investment in our police and youth services to help make our communities safer.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government is already over halfway to recruiting an additional 20,000 additional police officers and the police are being given the powers, tools and funding they need to cut crime.
“It is the responsibility of locally elected police and crime commissioners and chief constables to take decisions around their resourcing and estates.
“However, police stations – which remain one of many methods where incidents can be reported – should be kept open where possible to ensure people feel safe in their communities.”