§ Mr. Denham
I understand from the chief constable that the numbers of police stations closed in Devon and Cornwall since 1997 are as follows:
Year Number 1996–97 5 1997–98 4 1998–99 3 1999–2000 4 2000–01 0 1 April to 22 November 2001 0
Police authorities are now required to undertake public consultation before closure of police stations in their area.
The Government fully recognise the special needs of rural policing, and the demands of delivering a high quality service to communities with a low population density. £15 million was made available in 2000–01 to enhance the policing service in rural areas. Financial provision for future years has been included in the SR2000 settlement. Forces that police sparsely populated areas benefit from a further £30 million in 2001–02, and similar provision exists for 2002–03 and 2003–04.
Devon and Cornwall was allocated more than £1.5 million Rural Funding in 2000–01, and £3.1 million for the current year. These sums are greater than the allocations to any other force area.Police authorities which are allocated a share of the fund are required to publish a statement in their Annual/Best Value Policing Plans on how the money has been, and will be, spent.
In addition, the White Paper "Policing a New Century", published on 5 December, set out plans for increasing the accessibility of the police service to the public.247W