CROWTHORNE police have pledged to be more available, accessible and visible to residents following controversial changes made to the Thames Forest police area.

Since the reorganisation on February 18, 10 of the 16 reactive police officers from Crowthorne have moved to Bracknell.

But the number of beat officers in Crowthorne and Sandhurst has increased from three to five and a 24-hour patrol car has been allocated to the area.

The announcement initially sparked anger among residents who feared response times would fall, as officers would have to travel from Bracknell, and crime would rise as a result.

But police are adamantthat residents will benefit from the move, thanks to higher

visibility from an increased number of beat officers.

Insp Shaun Virtue reassured residents they would see policing improvements at a Sandhurst Police Liaison Group meeting last week.

He said: "We want to deliver a more visible police force. We want to get people away from the stations and being seen on the streets.

"We are trying to identify ways we can get police noticed — even if it means by

walking on foot.

"With five beat officers, it's an opportunity for us to widen our hours."

He added: "All this will go towards improving police availability, accessibility, reassurance and visibility."

Thames Valley Police, which instigated the changes, vowed the move would provide a better community service as all officers would work from one base, allowing them to share their area knowledge and create greater unity.

Crowthorne station's Sgt Mick Gee, soon to be replaced by Jackie Phillips, said the changes so far had not affected response times.

Police spokesman Anamika Madar confirmed that 93 per cent of emergency incidents had been met within the 15-minute response target since February 18.

E CROWTHORNE police station has welcomed two new beat officers to its team — PC Mark Everett and PC Steve Hudson.

Crowthorne will now be

covered by PC Everett, PC Kenny Dawkins and PC Mick Tricker. Sandhurst will be covered by PC Hudson and PC John Gildersleeves.