A POLICE and crime commissioner candidate for Gwent has proposed closing all police stations and moving staff into empty shops to save money.

Former policeman Chris Wright says police stations cost a huge amount of money and are not used as efficiently as they could be.

But rivals of Mr Wright called the idea "crazy" and "irresponsible".

According to former policeman Mr Wright's website police stations remain a focal point of the community but police officers only use them for between 60 and 90 minutes.

He said members of the public do not care which police station officers come from when they need officers to deal with crime or anti-social behaviour.

"The new plan, radical but eminently viable. Sell all the stations," he wrote.

He said that if a High Street has empty shops "let us put the police in one of them" – with beat officers going into town centres.

Others like response officers could go into a converted modern factory block on an industrial estate.

Mr Wright told the Argus: "Police stations in Gwent are very large and very expensive and very under used."

Nick Webb, Tory candidate for Gwent, said Mr Wright was right to acknowledge the tight budget the elected PCC will face but said the approach was "rather irresponsible".

Retired senior policeman Ian Johnston, a prospective independent candidate, said: "I think its absolutely and completly crazy. It's just not viable. Where do officers report for work? Where do officers change into uniform for work?"

He said communities do have an "emotional pole" towards their police station, and any closures should be subject to full consultation.

Hamish Sandison, Labour candidate, said he wasn't in favour of Mr Wright's' proposals but was in favour of getting the best value from stations. He said he would want to consult with the public before making decisions on them.

The Argus previously reported plans by Gwent Police to close most of the force's front desks by the end of June.

Elections are due to take place on November 15.