Gwent Police to close 17 stations to public and cut 19 jobs
Gwent Police is to close 17 stations to the public and cut 19 front desk jobs in a cost-cutting measure.
Union officials from Unison said the changes outlined to staff on Tuesday would leave only five stations open to the public throughout the force area.
The changes will save £500,000, although Gwent Police said it has to make £34m in budget savings by 2015 with £17m already achieved.
Senior officers said police would still be available on duty round the clock.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Prince said: "We want to reassure the public that our 24/7 presence will remain as strong as ever, giving rapid response to their calls for help and advice.
"Only the places and the ways we interact with them will change."
The changes mean that from July a front counter service will no longer be available at Abertillery, Brynmawr, Tredegar, Caerphilly, Bargoed, Rhymney, Ystrad Mynach, Bedwas, Risca, Chepstow, Monmouth, Caldicot, Alway, Pill, Maindee, Bettws and Pontypool.
The force stressed that the stations would still be used as bases for police officers, specialist departments or office accommodation.
Newport Central will remain open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Stations at Abergavenny, Ebbw Vale, Cwmbran and Blackwood will continue to open to the public from 08:00 to 20:00 GMT, seven days a week.
End Quote Linda Sweet Gwent Police Unison branch secretary
These people are highly skilled and highly thought of in the organisation”
Unison said its members, who are Gwent Police employees but not police officers, have been told their role will be cut.
Gwent Police Unison branch secretary Linda Sweet said: "We're concerned that this has come about. We're also optimistic that staff can be found other posts at this time.'Catastrophic'
"These people are highly skilled and highly thought of in the organisation. They have a wealth of knowledge of the police service."
Ms Sweet said Gwent Police currently had around 800 police staff.
Earlier this month the force issued a statement saying it was looking to redesign the way people accessed its services.
It said research had shown there were more efficient ways than investing "limited funding on antiquated police buildings that are often poorly located for the community".
Last week, Caerphilly Labour MP Wayne David said he had been told the police authority was considering cuts he claimed would be "catastrophic" for the public.
In February the neighbouring South Wales force confirmed that it would be closing the front desks at a number of stations but has yet to reveal any details.