GWENT Police has announced plans to close front-counter services in more than half of its police stations, following a review.

As of January 2, 2019, seven of the force's 13 police stations will lose their front-counter provision – a service through which the public can report or give information about crime, hand in or request lost property, report for bail, and request information from officers.

Gwent Police emphasised no police stations would close as a result of the review.

"This is not a decision which has been taken lightly," chief constable (CC) Julian Williams said. "However, it is important to understand the context of increasing demand in which we operate."

CC Williams said the force was dealing with growing numbers of crimes, such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, hate crime and modern slavery, which required "more complex investigations and safeguarding provision".

"I want to reassure the public that they will still be welcome to visit any police station where they will still be able to seek assistance and report incidents," CC Williams added. "Everyone within the force remains committed to delivering a high quality, visible, responsive service for people living and working in Gwent.”

Gwent's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Jeff Cuthbert, explained why the closures were being introduced.

“I have made a commitment that we will not withdraw from any community unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so," he said.

"Since austerity began, we have seen a 25 per cent cash reduction in government grants, which equates to a 40 per cent real-term reduction.

"The nature of crime is changing and there has also been a reduction in footfall at police station front counters.

"The chief constable has stated that these savings will allow Gwent Police to devote greater resources to investigating crime and protecting vulnerable people – these are the issues that the public have told me are amongst their highest priorities."

The PCC added that Gwent Police now had an extra 130 officers compared to 2015, and said he welcomed any proposals from partners regarding collaborative working.

The six stations which will retain a front-counter service are Newport Central, Abergavenny, Monmouth, Ebbw Vale, Blackwood, and Cwmbran.

From January 2, front-counter services at those stations will operate Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, with the exception of Newport Central, which will operate Sunday to Thursday, 8am-midnight, and on Friday and Saturday between 8am and 2am.

At stations where front-counter services are to close, the public will still be able to seek assistance from officers, and all police stations will remain equipped with external telephones from which people can seek assistance and report incidents.