Thousands back campaign to re-open Dinnington police station in wake of Leonne Weeks' murder

Thousands of people have signed a petition to re-open Dinnington police station, after Leonne Weeks (left) was stabbed to death on a footpath in the town in January
Thousands of people have signed a petition to re-open Dinnington police station, after Leonne Weeks (left) was stabbed to death on a footpath in the town in January

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for Dinnington police station to be re-opened, after a teenage girl was stabbed to death on a footpath there earlier this year.

The murder of 16-year-old Leonne Weeks on January 16 this year shocked the Dinnington community, and came just a month after Steven Fretwell was murdered at his home in nearby Laughton on December 18, 2016.

Dinnington resident Tim Wells says the lack of a visible police presence in the town is causing some to feel too afraid to 'go out at night' in the wake of Leonne's death.

Since January online and paper petitions demanding that Dinnington police station is re-opened and for more police on the beat have collected over 3,300 signatures.

Mr Wells says he and other campaigners will continue with the petition until the police station re-opens.

"There's a growing number of people who don't feel safe at night," said Mr Wells, of Victoria Street, Dinnington.

The 53-year-old added: "We had a murder in Laughton in December 2016 and January 2017 in Dinnington. A killer clown attack in November of 2016, which could have resulted in another fatality. Other crime such as theft seems to be escalating and we have had some other serious incidents since.

"Before the police station closed 12 months ago we had four PCSOs who you would see patrolling the town, and now we are lucky if we have two - and there is no cover at night."

Mr Wells is set to submit the petition to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, Steven Watson, and has put forward an alternative to resources in the area being based at Maltby police station.

He added: "Rather than having such a large police station at Maltby. I would recommend three smaller units.

"Anston/Dinnington, Maltby and Aston/Swallownest. This would act as a triangle in Rothervalley and provide a much better response locally and also across the constituency.

"The three smaller units, would only require a public desk, meeting room, cell and toilet. This would cut building costs considerably."

The ageing Dinnington station was a victim of the move towards more modern and flexible policing, say force bosses.

“Those who call for the re-opening of cold, dark, damp stations are simply out of touch with the current ways of preventing and tackling crime and anti-social behaviour,” said South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Dr Alan Billings last month.

He added: “They are choosing to heat and light empty offices, rather than have boots on the ground.

This is inefficient and ineffective. Police officers don’t need buildings in the way they used to.

"All officers are now equipped with hand-held laptops that allow them to make their reports from the area they are policing.

"This saves 150,000 hours that were taken up by travelling to and from stations. We are doing the best we can with fewer resources than we used to have.”

Shea Peter Heeley, aged 18, of Doe Quarry Lane, Dinnington, was charged with Leonne's murder in January.

Nathan Kieran Fensome, aged 28, Ashley Grant Fensome, aged 21, both of Dinnington, and Barry Scott Plant, aged 35, from Wath, were charged with Steven Fretwell's murder last month.