Ten police stations across Lancashire could shut their doors to the public from next January in a fresh round of economies.
The shock news comes just 10 days after retiring Chief Constable Steve Finnigan spoke out saying cuts to his force had gone too far, making the public less safe.
Stations whose front counters are earmarked for closure include Leyland, Kirkham, Ormskirk and Clitheroe.
Others, like Preston and Chorley, are set to have their opening hours reduced in an attempt to save £1.4m by 2020.
The plans are to be put up for public consultation, although the clear message from the force and Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is that more savings will have to be made on top of the £72.2m already delivered since the Government’s austerity measures were first introduced.
“I want to reassure our communities this review will not change the way areas are policed,” said Commissioner Clive Grunshaw. “Front counters are not staffed by police officers and this review will not impact on police numbers.
“Of course these changes are taking place as part of the way the Constabulary looks to manage the continuing cuts to its funding by Government.”
Police say the number of people using front counters at stations across Lancashire is continuing to fall. In future people will have to report crimes by phone or online.
“In some stations as few as three people per day have visited on core business leaving, leaving the Constabulary with litttle option but to review the service,” said a statement from the force.
“This review will not result in any station closures, nor change the way areas are policed, but it will deliver £1.4m of the £19.8m in savings the police need to find by 2020.
“The proposals are based on detailed analysis of current use and are supported by a range of improvements to other contact methods such as telephone and online crime reporting.
“Now stakeholders and the public are being asked for their views on the proposals, but with a clear message that savings have to be delivered and the public demands on the Constabulary are no longer in stations, but out in the community and on the telephone.”
Lancashire Police currently spend £2.8m on counter services, so the planned cuts will halve that bill.
The force says fewer crimes are now reported via police stations, but demand on the telephone contact centre continues to grow with more than 2,400 calls dealt with every day.
Commissioner Grunshaw added: “The public have been voting with their feet for some time and the front counters proposed for closure only serve three to 10 people a day.”
Chief Supt Peter Lawson, the officer responsible for the review, said: “Our enquiry desk staff perform a valuable role and this needs to be maintained, but not at the current level which far outweighs demand.”