ASHBOURNE'S leading policeman says keeping the town's station open in the future is "unrealistic".
Sgt Denis Murphy says there are no immediate plans to close the three-floor station in Compton but he admits he is looking around at smaller sites in the town.
Sgt Murphy moved to reassure townsfolk that, should the station be downsized, maintaining a police presence in Ashbourne would be a priority and he is calling for ideas or suggestions for other potential sites.
He told the News Telegraph: "There has been no decision made to close Ashbourne police station and I should like to reassure the community that there is no intention to withdraw police from the town and surrounding area."
Derbyshire police are looking closely at the force's budget this year in a bid to meet a shortfall in funding from the Government
Reductions in the Government grant since the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 amount to £19 million and a further £10 million is anticipated to be cut in this financial year.
Sgt Murphy said: "It is true that the force is looking at all its resources, including its estate.
"Given the scale of the financial challenges ahead, sustaining it in its current size is unrealistic, but it's important to note that no decisions have been made.
"These are strategic decisions – made at the very highest level of the organisation – and they won't be made until the process is complete later this year.
"Any decisions made will then be communicated.
"Should the decision be made that we move from our current site at Compton Police Office, we may need to think about sourcing an alternative base in the town.
"I am making inquiries about one or two potential alternatives and would like to engage with the community about any ideas or suggestions that they might have.
"I should like to reassure the community that the local policing team remain committed to this area and will continue to strive to serve and protect our communities."
Town and district councillor Steve Bull said he understands the reasons for down-sizing but hoped it would not result in a reduction in numbers. He said: "I think it's an important part of the town and with Ashbourne ever-expanding, I think it's concerning they are looking at downsizing.
"I can understand the reasons for them wanting a smaller office but I just hope it doesn't result in fewer officers for the town and have an effect on police manpower.