PRESSURE continues to mount on police chiefs to reopen a police station in the town where a teenage girl was found stabbed to death on a footpath.
More than 700 people have signed an online petition calling for Dinnington’s cop shop to reopen and more officers on the beat.
It follows the murder of 16-year-old Leonne Weeks, whose body was found off Lordens Hill in Dinnington on January 16, and the killing of Steven Fretwell in Laughton in December.
The site closed last year because “it didn’t make sense financially” to keep it open, according to the force.
But resident Tim Wells set up the petition for reopening, claiming it would reduce crime in the area and “allow police to be more proactive”.
Mr Wells, of Victoria Street, said: “Since the closure of the station, crime appears to have increased in the area and we have had two recent murders, something that was unknown of previously.
“What’s happened recently has obviously had an effect and we’ve got a lot of support.
“I think people will feel more secure and if they feel the police care then it will put their minds at rest.
“It’s like an insurance policy for the community - hopefully people won’t have to use the police but I think it gives the public confidence and reassurance that the police are there if they need them.”
The petition also calls for more police officers in the town in the hope of clamping down on crime and antisocial behaviour.
Mr Wells said axing the role of police and crime commissioner would free up funds for South Yorkshire Police to reopen the Dinnington site.
He said: “I calculated that for a community our size - with a population of 25,000 - we should have six police officers per shift.
“The main issue we’ve got is that when people are in danger, who do they turn to? If the officers have to come from Maltby, there is a chance the criminals could get away before they arrive.”
Mr Wells said he understood the current police station on Laughton Road was out-dated but said a new one should be built on the site if a revamp was too expensive.
He said: “They could probably use the site and get a police station near enough built and bring it in on the back of a lorry and slot it in place.
“It could be a model for the rest of Rotherham.”
Rotherham district commander Chief Supt Rob Odell said funding cuts had led to a reduction in officers across the county - not just in Dinnington.
He said the police station had been very old and inefficient to run.
“To put improvements into the building would just not be worth the money,” he said.
“What we have got to do is consolidate our buildings and resources for financial efficiency in response to budgetary constraints. We would rather lose a building than members of staff.”
Once the petition reaches 1,000 signatures, campaigners will present it to South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and chief constable Stephen Watson.
A charity dance event in memory of teenage murder victim Leonne Weeks brought in £90.
Fitness instructor Jules Donaghy organised the 90-minute “clubbercise” session at Dinnington High School on Saturday.
The money raised will go to Leonne’s family.
Shea Heeley, also from Dinnington, appeared in court last month charged with the teenager’s murder.