A RETIRED Ashbourne police officer says the decision to move the town's response officers to Matlock could have a "massive detrimental effect" on the area's policing.
Doug Eyre, who lives in Ashbourne and covered beats in the Derbyshire Dales for 24 years, estimates that it could take police up to 20 minutes to respond to incidents in the town centre when they are moved to Matlock, probably next month.
Currently, the Ashbourne station in Compton, which is facing a threat of closure as part of a force-wide spending review, is staffed daily by officers who can respond to 999 calls in the town.
But these officers will, as of next month, start their day in Matlock.
Although officers will travel to Ashbourne after starting their shifts in Matlock, Mr Eyre estimates that, taking shift times and travel time in to account, Ashbourne could be without any police cover for up to eight hours every day.
He said: "I live in Ashbourne, and so do lots of other people and I believe this could have a massive detrimental effect on the town.
"It goes without saying, you wouldn't order a pizza from Matlock, so why should our police have to travel in from there?
"If response officers start their day in Matlock, when they come in for duty there will be a briefing first thing, which could take 40 minutes, then they will need to check their e-mails and so on. I can't see them getting to Ashbourne much before 9am.
"The night shift they are replacing would have travelled back to Matlock from Ashbourne at 6am. This means that, for three hours, there is no police cover.
"Remember, there are three shift change-overs per day, so I think that on average, for eight hours a day, there will no police cover.
"On the face of it, it sounds like a very small step but it won't be – it will have a massive effect."
Derbyshire police have confirmed that all its "reactive police" will be moved to Matlock from Ashbourne and Bakewell, and the News Telegraph understands this will begin next month.
The force insists a visible presence will be maintained in Ashbourne despite the move and that response times will not be affected.
In a statement, Chief Superintendent Karl Smethem said: "This is essentially a decision which will help to improve the deployment and supervision of those staff that were working at Ashbourne and Bakewell.
"The Safer Neighbourhood teams will continue to be based at their original locations.
"While some officers are attached to Safer Neighbourhood teams, they will still be available to respond when needed to assist with incidents."
Ashbourne Town Council has expressed fears over the move, and has written to police and crime commissioner Alan Charles.
The matter will be discussed at the authority's next meeting, at Ashbourne Town Hall, on Tuesday, September 16.