Leeds cops move out of police stations ... and into libraries

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Bobbies are moving out of police stations and into libraries, community centres and hospitals to make them more accessible to the public.

The move is part of a major overhaul that will see the 17 existing neighbourhood policing teams for Leeds expanded to 33 smaller teams.

Each led by a sergeant and working assigned to a specific Leeds council ward, many of the new teams will be based in public buildings rather than police stations.

Some will work under one roof with other public services, including the council and health services, in a “one-stop shop” arrangement.

It is hoped that development will improve communication between officials responsible for vulnerable people – to prevent a repeat of tragedies like the death of Hamzah Khan.

The new model was launched yesterday at Middleton Community Hub.

Inspector Chris Bowen, who will oversee the teams in the Beeston and Holbeck and Middleton Park wards, said: “It’s about bringing policing right down into the community and making it a more personal service.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson added: “People want to engage with police more and more but some who are reluctant to go into a police station might be more likely to go into somewhere that feels less intimidating.”

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore said it was vital that the police worked more closely with other professionals to identify potential problems more quickly. Referring to the case of four-year-old Hamzah Khan, whose death in Bradford went unnoticed by the authorities for two years, Mr Gilmore said: “If you take that as an example, we want to be able to share information more closely to deal with issues at source.”

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