A YEAR after a town’s police station closed to the public, residents say they fear crime has increased.

Waltham Abbey police station’s front desk, where people could report crimes or speak to an officer face to face, was shut in November last year amid Essex Police’s efforts to save £41million from its budget.

Michelle Ames of the Sun Inn in Sun Street said: “It’s definitely changed. There’s a lot more crime around here – a few burglaries in the area and vans and garages have been broken into.

“We have a lot of people coming in and telling us it’s closed down – customers have noticed. You can’t just pop in.”

Sue Calvert, chairwoman of Waltham Abbey Residents’ Association, said: “It’s made a difference. It’s put us in a vulnerable position.”

She said she had heard more reports of crime over the past year, but that this could be because more victims were getting in touch with her association.

Between December last year and September, when the latest crime figures for the area are available, there were more robberies and vehicle offences than in the 10 months before the station closed to the public.

However, Anti-social behaviour, burglary and crimes classified as violent have dropped in the same time period.

Chief Superintendent Carl O’Malley, who was head of the force’s reform programme said last year: “The recommendation with regard to Waltham Abbey police station's front counter was based on a combination of an analysis of footfall at each location, a public survey carried out by Essex Police Authority, and the need to make substantial savings while maintaining front line police patrols.”