THE closure of the police station in Salisbury will be like leaping off a cliff, the chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation believes.

Mike White says although police officers will make the best of it, they remain uncertain about what will follow closure of the Wilton Road police station in the summer. He said until a new custody centre is built in Salisbury in two years’ time, it is likely there will be fewer arrests in the city. This is because it will be so time-consuming to take prisoners to Melksham as part of the temporary arrangements.

Mr White said: “We don’t really know what the impact is going to be. It’s going to be jumping off a cliff.

“Some things may be dealt with in a different way. Officers will be more reluctant to arrest people than they were previously.”

But he said the 20 per cent cuts in personnel under the current Government, changes to powers of arrest and a falling crime rate would also reduce arrests. Once the police station has been closed, it will be renovated for use by the proposed South Wiltshire University Technical College.

About 100 police response officers serving Salisbury and south and west Wiltshire will then be based in Amesbury until work is completed on the new police station at the Five Rivers community campus. Another 50 officers in neighbourhood and plain-clothes teams will move to the council offices at Bourne Hill in Salisbury.

When the police station closure was announced last year, Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty said it was part of a cost-saving programme that would enable closer working with partners.

He said: “We want to reassure the people of Salisbury that we will continue to have a very visible policing presence in the city, maintaining the same numbers of police officers and staff.”