POLICE presence will not be “watered down” in south Monmouthshire despite falling officer numbers and station closures, a meeting has heard.

Gwent Police chief superintendent Ian Roberts reassured councillors that while crime in the area was “low level”, officers were dealing with around 30 incidents a day.

Newport officers would also be moved into Monmouthshire if needed, the council’s Severnside area committee was told, with the county having a higher crime-to-officer ratio than the city authority.

But Chief Supt Roberts admitted that reducing front-counter services at seven police stations, including Caldicot and Chepstow, would have a “psychological impact” on communities.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “People are reassured by police stations but with most members of the public contacting us by phone, we’ve had to adapt.


“We found that footfall was very low across our stations, with the busiest station seeing less than one person per hour.

“But if officers are in a station and someone wants to turn up, then that door will be open.”

Chief Supt Roberts told councillors that the 20,000 officers cut from police forces across England and Wales since 2010 equated to 10 forces the size of Gwent Police disappearing.

The meeting heard that the “relatively small” Gwent operation had the same level of funding as schools in Newport.

“I would love to be able to have front counter services across Gwent, but the reality is that it wasn’t good value for money, and we’ve had to take some tough decisions,” added Chief Supt Roberts.

“The challenge in Monmouthshire is geographical, with four towns quite spread out and rural incidents happening between.

“Walking about town being visible is something we’d love to do, but when people are asking for assistance we have to respond, and that has to be the priority.”

Caldicot councillor Tony Easson expressed concerns that neighbourhood teams would eventually be lost to Newport, and asked: “Are we going to have our police presence watered down?”

Chief Supt Roberts said Monmouthshire officers could be asked to respond in emergency situations if needed but said the occasions have been “few and far between”.

The meeting also heard crime in the Severnside area remained unchanged for the last two years, with an average three crimes a day, or 90 a month, between Caldicot and Magor.

But Chief Supt Roberts said officers respond to incidents across the county on a 24/7 basis and “were not just sat in the station waiting for calls”.

He added: “Monmouthshire is one of the safest places to live, with most officers dealing with violence without injury, and the most serious stuff happens behind closed doors.”