KINVER residents have spoken of their anger after discovering their village police station has been closed for the last 12 to 18 months.

Villagers have branded Staffordshire Police’s decision to close the station and sell it off for housing as a “disgrace”.

Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Bob Clarke said police never even told him the village base was shutting up shop and moving PCSO Paula Wilkes into Kinver’s library.

Mr Clarke said: “It’s got to the point where people have no confidence in the police.

"They see anti-social behaviour and don’t bother reporting it anymore. I can’t remember the last time I saw a beat bobby walking down the High Street.

“I’ve been involved with other Neighbourhood Watch schemes and I can honestly say the one in Kinver is shambolic.

“There’s no communication, they don’t tell you anything. I didn’t even know the police station had closed and I doubt many people in Kinver know either.

“There’s been no notices on the parish council board and I’ve checked with the local papers and they’ve no report of it.”

Outraged resident Stuart McKinnon said: “It’s the end of policing in Kinver.

“If an incident occurs in Kinver now, we’ve not got a cat in hell’s chance.

“It’s a disgrace, it’s crazy and we don’t deserve treatment like this.

“They promised us a speedy awareness campaign over two years ago - but nothing has happened. They just pay us lip-service but do nothing.”

Inspector Donna Gibbs, the LPT Commander for South Staffordshire, said the police building was no longer fit for purpose and revealed it had not been operational for the last 12 to 18 months.

She defended the closure decision and said: “We’re changing the way we do our business.

“Whatever you do, people will always want more, but there have been no cutbacks to frontline policing in South Staffordshire.

“There is a police presence in the area - it’s just that we don’t advertise it enough.

“Patrol cars often drive through at night and the community will not know.

“We’ve had to reshape the policing team. We’ve introduced a split-response team for South Staffordshire, one of which is based at Watling on the A5 near Gailey while the other is at Wombourne where patrols go for briefings.

“Previously the police station at Kinver was used as a base with staff going in and out - but there’s been no staff there for the past 12 months and the parish council has been made aware of that.”

Retiring Parish Council chairman Julian Hall said the council has not been “happy with the level of policing in Kinver for some years” and admitted: “We don’t actually know what to do next. This is something that has been creeping up on us for sometime.”

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson said: “ A police station with nobody there, is no use to anyone.

“It’s something that has been causing me considerable concern because we need to see more of a police presence in Kinver.

"We need a functional presence and it’s something I intend to raise with both the chief constable and the crime commissioner.

“We’re the most southerly outpost of south Staffordshire and one of the most secure places in the West Midlands and I don’t want to put that in jeopardy.

“To have no permanent police presence is disgraceful, we need a presence.”