Police Stations (Sussex)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1999.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 12:00 am, 26th April 1999

What representations he has received about opening times for police stations in Sussex. [80958]

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary regularly receives representations from hon. Members, members of the public and others on a wide variety of issues relating to the police, including the opening times of police stations. I am not aware of any specific representations on the issue.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

Will the Minister join me in condemning the tragic killing of PC Jeffrey Tooley, a young officer based in the traffic division at Shoreham in my constituency? While carrying out his duties late on Saturday night, he was hit by a van—apparently deliberately—which then failed to stop. The officer died in hospital yesterday. Will the Minister extend her condolences both to his family and to colleagues to whom I spoke this morning?

Will the Minister tell me how I can convince my constituents that the Government are serious about tackling crime in communities in my part of West Sussex? During the last two years, evening and weekend opening hours have been eliminated in all the police stations in my constituency; no police emergency service response vehicles are now based at any of those police stations; and overall Sussex police numbers have been reduced by 161.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I am sure that all hon. Members throughout the House will wish to send their condolences to the family of PC Jeffrey Tooley. His death shows us again the dangers involved in being a police officer, and the extent to which police officers deserve our support.

There is always public concern about operational decisions to reduce the opening times of certain police stations. It must be said that all the developments that the hon. Gentleman said had taken place during the past two years took place under a funding regime implemented by the last Government; but the police must clearly make an operational decision on whether their resources are best used to keep police stations open during the evenings so that people can pop in, now that so many people use the telephone and can communicate with the police in other ways. We must allow them to make those operational decisions in their own areas.