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Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate

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2004-12-23 Daily Express.jpg

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POLICE boxes could soon be back on our streets, 35 years after they were scrapped.

Senior officers believe their reappearance will help offset the damage caused by the closure of one in every four police stations in the past decade.

The Police Federation said yesterday: "Since police stations have been sold off and closed in rural areas we have never been able to replace them. These proposals could provide an answer to that.

"We need to be seen within the community. That does not just mean officers walking around, but also the physical presence we used to have with the old police houses."

Police boxes were ditched in 1969 following the invention of walkie-talkie radios.

Introduced here in 1888, they were used by police to report back to the station, and search teams would be sent out if officers failed to check in on time.

The eight foot wide boxes could also be used by the public to report crimes.

They had a lamp on top to show officers when there was a message to be picked up, and are familiar to Dr Who fans as the model for the Tardis.

Hundreds of the boxes have been preserved, with one serving as a coffee shop for tourists in Edinburgh.

Another made it inside Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art after being covered in spots by artist Ann Shaw.

The plan to reintroduce the boxes received important backing today from an influential think tank that has urged Ministers to model the police box on Japan's Kobans.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) also warns huge improvements are needed to the nation's "intimidating and alienating" police stations, which have suffered years of neglect.

The Kobans — shaped like the traditional British police box — are usually manned 24 hours a day, and are staffed by

rotating teams of two or three community officers who use them as a base for foot patrols.

IPPR associate director Ben Rogers said the move would help to re-build the relationship between police and public.

It could also help to cut crime and reduce the fear of an attack, he said. Police Federation president Jan Berry said last night she was keen to study the proposals.

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said a police box would only be useful if there were more bobbies on the beat.

He added: "It is no good just having a building if there is no-one to deal with the public's concerns. The Government

should not have closed so many police stations in the first place and these must not be used as a substitute."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "A Tardis' is no substitute for a police station, and three stations a month have closed under Labour.

"Thousands of people no longer have a permanent police presence in their town or neighbourhood."

Stations have been axed and sold off at a rate of three a month since Labour was elected in 1997 — with a total loss since then of 230.

In 1990 there were 2,729 police stations compared with 2,099 in 2000. The Metropolitan

Police plans to sell off more than 200 properties worth £900million in the next decade.

Essex has been hardest hit so far with 59 closures, followed by Gloucestershire with 23 and South Wales with 22.

The closures, and a lack of a visible police on the beat, have left thousands of communities feeling abandoned to crime.

The IPPR study also claims the bad design of existing police stations is intimidating the public, acting as as a "barrier to good public service".

In 1999, the cost of running police buildings was £170mil-lion, with one fifth of police buildings more than 70 years old. A history of under-investment had left every force with a sizeable backlog of repairs.

Updated police stations could improve morale and save millions of pounds currently lost due to poorly-designed buildings and inefficiency, the report claims. The Home Office is to study the report.

OPINION: PAGE 10

Should we bring back old-style policing methods?


Caption: 1931 Police boxes were a reassuring sight for all

Caption: 2005 New-style police boxes here could be modelled on Japanese Kobans like this one pictured in Tokyo

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  • APA 6th ed.: Slack, James (2004-12-23). Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate. Daily Express p. 5.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Slack, James. "Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate." Daily Express [add city] 2004-12-23, 5. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Slack, James. "Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate." Daily Express, edition, sec., 2004-12-23
  • Turabian: Slack, James. "Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate." Daily Express, 2004-12-23, section, 5 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Bring_back_police_boxes_to_curb_our_spiraling_crime_rate | work=Daily Express | pages=5 | date=2004-12-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Bring back police boxes to curb our spiraling crime rate | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Bring_back_police_boxes_to_curb_our_spiraling_crime_rate | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024}}</ref>