The number of police stations open to the public has almost halved in seven years, according to figures unearthed by a Freedom of Information request.
Figures from 31 out of 43 police forces across England and Wales showed the number of open front counters had fallen from 901 in 2010 to 501 by March this year – a drop of around 44%.
The closure of 400 front counters was revealed by an FOI request made by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The newspaper said Derbyshire Police saw the biggest reduction, with the number of buildings open to the public falling 84% from 25 to four.
It also reveals Hertfordshire as having three fully operational police stations with front counters, compared with 10 seven years ago. The force’s website shows there are three stations open to the public daily, two others with a reduced counter service and 15 with no public access.
Stations with cells also closed at a rate of 45% since 2010, falling from 282 to 155 across the 31 force areas.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs Council said: “Police are now far more accessible to the public online and by phone.
“Chief constables and police and crime commissioners will take decisions together about the numbers and location of police stations and front counters to meet their communities’ needs balanced against force budgets and priorities.
“All forces ensure they have custody facilities to meet their levels of demand. In recent years, several forces have replaced and renewed their custody suites.”
And a Home Office spokeswoman said crime had fallen, according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales figures released last month.
She added: “The Government has protected overall police spending in real terms since the 2015 Spending Review.
“Decisions on the operational deployment of resources and the size of the police workforce are rightly a matter for chief constables, in association with police and crime commissioners, but police forces continue to have the resources they need to do their important work.”