7:00pm Monday 4th February 2013
By Mark Taylor
POLICE in Blackbird Leys are pushing for a replacement office on the estate.
Thames Valley Police plans to close the current base off Blackbird Leys Road in April, less than three years after opening it, to cut costs.
It has been leased from owner NHS Oxfordshire since 2010, when officers moved in after more than 18 months of negotiations.
Thames Valley Police has given no commitment that a replacement office will be found, but community officers are pressing for a home inside Blackbird Leys.
Sgt Rob Axe, of the south east area police team, addressed Blackbird Leys Parish Council on Tuesday saying he was disappointed at the decision, but upbeat about finding a replacement.
He said: “The IT inside the building was a factor. It wasn’t good enough and taking everything else into account a financial decision was made. “I am hopeful we can find somewhere else near here as soon as we can. We are looking for value for money.”
Insp Matt Coburn, south east neighbourhood team chief, also wrote to the parish council to apologise for the “surprise” nature of the closure.
He said the focus was on retaining a visible presence inside the estate and that extra patrols would be put on.
The parish council said it was appalled by the decision, which is being made to save about £12,000 a year.
Chairman Gordon Roper said: “This parish council will do everything in its power to make sure that police remain on the estate. It’s good for the residents to see that there are police around.”
Police statistics show that crime levels have dropped in Blackbird Leys during the time the police base, which houses five neighbourhood officers and five PCSOs, has been up and running.
It was not intended as a station open to the public, in but no one who calls in to talk to the officers is turned away .
Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said the force would look for another office “as close to Blackbird Leys as possible”.
All police property is currently under financial review.
He said: “A lot of our property is leased and obviously that costs more than if we own it ourselves.
“It’s an ongoing review and we will constantly be monitoring where we can look to make savings.”
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