DORSET Police could cut the opening hours of police stations across the county, but officers say shorter hours or the actual closure of stations would badly hit rural areas.
Some villages aren’t taking any chances and are already making plans to fight any cuts.
The current police station at Piddle-in-the-Pond, which has operated for years in an alcove off the snug in the Horse & Plough pub, may not have many staff but it has been a huge success.
News that the station might reduce hours or even close was a bitter blow for PC Ivor Thirst who has run the station almost singlehandedly for nearly forty years.
His popular brand of community policing carried out in front and behind the bar has created the only zero crime area in the country.
There is no theft but only things that have been “mislaid” and no violence unless people don’t do what he says.
At 6ft 6in and 23 stone, few people have been unwise enough to challenge PC Thirst. Well there was that American tourist who complained about the surcharge on his beer, but a “spot” sentence of a week working on the pig farm soon smoothed that over.
PC Thirst said: “I just can’t see how them headquarters people can cut station hours here. The pub has got to open and I open the station with it and close when old Dan’s had his last pint so I can walk him home.
“I’m right on the edge now. Harvest time is over but there’s all the cider to make. There’s only so many hours in the day left for all my policing and the Widow Bedworthy gets tetchy if I leave too soon.
“That Heath feller Prime Minister has got to realize that rural life can’t be rushed. Slow and steady wins the day and if I’m told to shut the station early there’ll only be Albert’s Tuesday and Saturday night lock-ins when folk can do a bit of business with me if you gather my meaning.”
Villagers, too, are worried that less policing could lead to a rise in serious anti-social behavior incidents.
Eileen Dover-D’Wall, who lives up at the Manor, broke off from waspishly directing a Fortnum & Mason’s van away to the rear courtyard to say how appalled she was that Dorset Police could even consider such a measure.
She said: “What on earth are they thinking about? Don’t they realise that without proper policing one might get tradesmen at one’s front door, perhaps even a Labour canvasser?
“PC Thirst does a fine job ensuring such riff-raff know their place and it will be a sad day if his superiors interfere with the proper order of things. I shall be writing to the Chief Constable about this today.”
So there you have it. Nothing has definitely been decided yet, but Dorset Police are clearly facing a rural backlash….and no-one wants to be on PC Thirst’s black list.