NORTHUMBRIA Police have failed to deny claims officers could be moved out of Haltwhistle.

The allegation was made by a councillor speaking at Haltwhistle Town Council’s meeting on Monday night.

Coun. Margaret Forrest said that the officers could be moved from their current offices at Haltwhistle Fire Station and be based in Hexham as soon as January.

Coun. Forrest said: “It’s proposed that as from January, officers that are stationed here will be moved to Hexham – and the only time police will be in Haltwhistle is when they’re investigating a crime.

“I have it from a very reliable source. I can’t tell you who it is because I need to protect them.

“I think that’s appalling. It’s absolutely scandalous that this is happening.”

“I propose we strongly object to it, because they’re leaving Haltwhistle open to criminals.”

Coun. John Clark added: “Haltwhistle is 16 miles from Hexham. That’s 25 minutes even in a fast police car.”

The council agreed to put their concerns in a letter to Northumbria Police.

Since 2014, police stations at Bellingham, Haltwhistle, Ponteland and Corbridge have been closed and relocated into fire stations or other community buildings, with no front desk open for the public to report crime. Hexham Police Station was the only station to survive the cuts.

The move brought widespread outrage across Tynedale, but the chief constable at the time, Sue Sim, issued reassurances that neighbourhood officers would remain based in the communities they serve.

In 2014, she told the Courant: “Neighbourhood officers will remain in the communities they serve based in accommodation familiar to the neighbourhoods where they work.

“These bases will be open at the same times as the station currently serving the public.”

Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton said: “Our Chief Constable Winton Keenen has been very clear that we have suffered unprecedented cuts to our budget. This means we continuously need to scrutinise the deployment of our officers.

“That said, we work closely with communities and will ensure they are involved in any changes which might be made to the way we police areas.”