FEARS have been raised that Salisbury Police Station could be closed as Wiltshire Police looks to cut costs.
The force is considering moving neighbourhood policing teams to a new Wiltshire Council community campus while custody cases could be taken to Melksham, 35 miles away.
And concerned police officers and solicitors fear it could have a major impact on policing in the city.
One source told the Journal: “Wiltshire Police think that by closing the custody unit it will save them money.
“What they don’t seem to realise is the cost of transporting prisoners to Melksham, not only in extra fuel, but the amount of time it will take police officers to go up there and book in.
This could take three hours of their shift leaving them with less time to deal with other jobs and respond to 999 calls.
“Salisbury deals with an average of 3,500 people arrested each year, and Melksham’s capacity is 20 at any one time. Will they be able to cope? If not they will have to be taken to Swindon instead.”
Nick Redhead, a partner at Salisbury solicitors’ firm Redhead and Jones added: “The suggestion that Salisbury Police Station will be closed has been the subject of feverish speculation and many believe that it will be rushed through before, say, an independent commissioner takes up his or her post.
“I don’t think people realise how thinly stretched the thin blue line is, and if officers are taking prisoners to Melksham they are not patrolling Salisbury.
“My understanding is that there would be no savings, when you consider all the costs that would arise from the knock-on consequences.
The only real motivation would be to close the station entirely and sell the land.”
Superintendent Matt Pullen, head of local policing for Salisbury and south Wiltshire, said: “We are looking at different options all around the force in order to see where the necessary funds can be saved for this year while maintaining the service we provide.
“No decisions have been made about Salisbury custody or the police station. I would ask the public to understand that we have to make savings, and reviewing the custody process and the Wiltshire Police Authority estate is a small part of finding out how we can achieve this.”