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Express & Star comment: Is this the ‘Beeching’ of the Old Bill?

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

In the 1960s, Richard Beeching designed a plan that would change the face of Britain's railways.

Richard Beeching

An engineer by trade, he put forward the argument that the increased popularity of cars meant that vast sections of the country's rail network were no longer required.

Despite vociferous opposition, and numerous campaigns and protests, his large-scale scheme to close lines was put into action.

It meant that by the end of the decade 6,000 miles of passenger routes were gone and hundreds of stations had closed down.

For anyone familiar with the current controversy over police station closures, this may well sound awfully familiar.

Two years ago, David Jamieson, the region's Labour police and crime commissioner, signed off on the closures of 28 police stations.

Now he has added another 24 to the list, including eight in the Black Country.

According to the PCC, the plans will save £5 million and help to 'modernise the force's estate' – let us not forget that a few bases will get a revamp and Brierley Hill police station will be rebuilt.

He has insisted that the closures will only go ahead once he is satisfied with the force’s plans to maintain a policing presence in all local areas.

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We understand Mr Jamieson's argument that the force has been starved of funding over the last eight years.

But closing down more than 50 police stations is not the answer.

The basic fact is that the crime rate is rising every year.

At the same time, the public's trust in the police to be able to solve crimes is at an all time low.

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However Mr Jamieson wants to dress it up, the disappearance of police stations is seen in many quarters as being synonymous with the withdrawal of bobbies from the public eye.

It may well be that a lot of crimes in the modern age can be solved from behind a desk, but is this the case for burglaries, robbery, and weapons offences?

A postscript to the Beeching cuts is that moves are now afoot all over the country to reopen many of the lines that closed half a century ago.

Mr Jamieson is in serious danger of becoming the 'Beeching' of the Old Bill.

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