West Midlands Police are to close and sell off 24 buildings including the huge Sutton Coldfield Police Station in a bid to save money for investment in frontline officers.
But Police commissioner David Jamieson has moved to assure residents that the force will retain the current level of ten police stations open to the public across the region.
Many of the buildings facing the axe are former police stations, like Kingstanding, which were closed to the public three years ago and most are being used as offices for staff.
Only two on the for sale list, Sutton Coldfield and Solihull stations, are currently open to the public and will be replaced with a police office open to the public elsewhere in the towns centre before they are closed.
Police will also look to share buildings with other public agencies including councils and health services.
Mr Jamieson said that the estimated £5 million a year savings on buildings and maintenance costs will allow him to protect 100 constables jobs.
It is also proposed to develop key new facilities including an Events Control Suite for monitoring major public events, including the Commonwealth Games.
The Labour commissioner said: “After £145 million cuts since 2010 and with the level of funding from government being squeezed year on year, I am having to continue to find efficiencies to protect officer numbers. The £5 million annual savings proposed in this strategy will help protect 100 police officer posts.
“Crime is also changing and I need to ensure West Midlands Police has an estate that is equipped to help officers and staff respond to those crimes. Whilst the threats we face change, the public still need access to their police. That is why these proposals ensure that the current number of public contact offices will be maintained.
“The Commonwealth Games coming to the region in 2022 will be a great occasion, but it will also require a huge amount of planning and improved facilities for West Midlands Police to help keep us all safe.
“The proposals in this strategy are not finalised. That is why I have asked West Midlands Police commanders to talk and listen to the thoughts of their local communities over the next month.”
The Commissioner’s strategic board will look at the plans on Tuesday, February 20 and there will be a month of consultation with staff and the public before a final decision is taken.
Campaigners in Sutton Coldfield have already raised a 1,600 name petition calling for a public facing office to be retained in the town.
Cllr Rob Pocock (Lab, Sutton Vesey) who raised the petition said: “This decision looks promising. People want a police presence where they can speak to an officer face-to-face, in private if necessary. If they moved that into the town centre it could be an improvement.”
The proposals have the support of senior officers. Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said: “Many of these sites have been part of the police estate for a number of years and as such, we understand local communities may feel a connection to specific buildings. However, most of our buildings have high running costs, are poorly located and are not fit for future operational purposes.”
The stations and buildings being sold are:
Sutton Coldfield - to be replaced with public contact office
Solihull - to be replaced with public contact office