POLICE station front counters will close two hours early in an effort to help the force save money.

From Monday (OCT 15), North Yorkshire Police will close the front counters at stations in York, Scarborough and Harrogate at 8pm, rather than 10pm, at the recommendation of new Chief Constable Lisa Winward.

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said she had accepted the recommendation, and the changes meant the front counters would still open for 12 hours a day - between 8am and 8pm - the stations will still operate round-the-clock, and the force would save almost £150,000 a year.

According to the force, fewer than four people visit each station between 8pm and 10pm each day, and the majority were "in relation to custody or for pre-arranged appointments, both of which can be met by staff and officers on duty at the station, such as custody staff, and do not require the front counter to be open".

Mrs Mulligan said the reduction in hours would "allow this money to be invested elsewhere in policing across the county".

She said: "With the changing nature of policing, and the way many of us now live large parts of our lives online, it is inevitably affecting how the public interact with the police. This is something the police are still getting to grips with, and a lot more needs to be done to improve access to policing online and improve customer service, both of which are part of my police and crime plan.

"These changes are already having an impact on the numbers of people visiting police stations, which is getting fewer and fewer, especially in late evenings. Our front counter team provide an excellent service, but it does not make sense for them to be staffing the front counter when they’re rarely being used. I am sure taxpayers will agree that there are better ways we can use the £150,000 expected to be saved."

North Yorkshire Police said it was "continuing to develop the ways in which the public can get in touch to report concerns, ask questions and receive information, ensuring there are more digital means to access policing", as well as improving the 101 service.