Police who patrolled Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset 24 hours a day have been scrapped by the Ministry of Defence – leaving neighbourhood police teams to pick up the slack.
MoD-employed police used to patrol the base but at the beginning of the financial year in April a number of staff were re-deployed at other MoD bases, and police – mainly based in the Area East beat at Wincanton police station – were tasked with attending any incidents reported on the site.
It is not believed Avon and Somerset police officers will be asked to carry on the round the clock patrols, but just respond to reports.
Jeremy Greenop, community relations officer at RNAS Yeovilton, said: "Ministry of Defence police personnel on the base were withdrawn as part of a MoD reorganisation. The number of Ministry of Defence Provost Guard Service (MPGS) personnel was increased to compensate. MPGS provides the security for the base which has not been compromised.
"As has been the case for many years, Royal Navy Police personnel work closely with the local Avon and Somerset Constabulary. At the same time, we choose not to comment on numbers involved and procedures as that might compromise security."
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed that following a review in 2012 of the MoD's policing and guarding procedures, changes were made to the deployment of MoD Police at a number of sites across the UK including RNAS Yeovilton. She added: "No officers at Yeovilton were made redundant. New procedures were agreed with local police forces across the country to monitor key sites externally."
Sergeant Dean Hamilton, beat manager of Wincanton police station, said: "If there is an emergency in the evening we will be called to attend. They don't have custody on site, so anyone who is arrested gets taken into our cells.
"In the last couple of weeks we have carried out some random drug searches on site. Nothing was found, but the main purpose of the searches was to let personnel know that there is a police presence around the base."