IT will not be possible to report a crime directly at police stations in Stonehouse or Nailsworth from July 1 because the reception areas are being closed to save money.

Gloucestershire Constabulary says financial constraints combined with a decline in the number of people coming into police stations has prompted the decision, which has caused concern and been criticised by MP David Drew.

Ivor Twydell, assistant chief constable of corporate services at Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “We understand how concerned people are about our decision to close certain reception areas and it is a decision we have not taken lightly.

“In an ideal world we would not have to close any receptions, however the reality is we have to work within the budget we have been given."

Earlier in the year Gloucestershire's chief constable Dr Timothy Brain was left with the difficult task of cutting police jobs after the constabulary’s budget was set well below his recommended increase of 6.4 per cent at 2.9 per cent.

On Friday, members of Stroud Labour Party met outside Stonehouse police station to highlight their concerns. Among those who attended was Mayor Mattie Ross, who said: "Having a police station in the town brings a sense of security to residents who would rather report crimes to someone they know not just to an anonymous voice on the phone."

MP David Drew is also concerned by the cutbacks.

He said: “This is really not on. People will be worried by this development – how can police call the changes 'new reception opening times' when Stonehouse police station won’t be opening at all?"

Stonehouse county councillor Lesley Williams is a member of Gloucestershire Police Authority but is opposed to the move.

"There has been no consultation about these closures. This is not an efficiency saving it is a service cut," she said.

"People looking to the police for reassurance and support will now find the door literally shut in their face.”

However, Insp Bill Stack of Stonehouse police said the fact that the constabulary needed to make savings was widely known.

"The constabulary has made no secret of the fact that we need to make substantial savings as a result of funding shortfalls," he said.

"One of the areas where savings can be made is in our reception service provision."

Nailsworth police station does not currently have a fully staffed reception area but is staffed on an ad hoc basis. This will cease in July.

Mayor Norman Kay said: "Despite efforts by the town council we have never benefited from a secure reception service, so I suppose we cannot miss what we have never had. "However, it is right that actual policing must have first call on funding."

Police stations in Lydney and Cinderford have also been affected.

Full details on how to report a crime can be found at * A tough but necessary decision or a cut in service? Have your say here...