Since the closure of Alton’s police station in April 2017, the town’s neighbourhood, patrol and response teams have been based in Mill Lane.

However, the lack of a public front counter has meant people living in Alton and the surrounding villages who need to report a crime face-to-face or to speak directly with police staff – or meet the conditions of their probation – have had to travel to Aldershot, Basingstoke or Winchester to do so.

This could soon change if Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones’ “aspiration” to open a new police front counter in Alton town centre becomes a reality.

Mrs Jones revealed her plans at Petersfield’s annual meeting on Wednesday last week and, responding to questions by the Herald, said she is responding to public demand.

The PCC said: “The public have told me they want access to police stations to report crime and information. We also need more public access for people on police and court bail who have reporting requirements.

“A review is being undertaken with the force to establish where the front counters should be located, filling in geographical gaps, and where there is demand for additional police services.”

She added £2 million had been set aside in the police budget to pay for old counters to be reopened – although no such former front counter now exists in Alton.

Mrs Jones added the front counters “will be manned by police staff following the model of existing front desks that have remained open” and will open for set hours.

By way of comparison, Basingstoke’s front counter opens 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm Sundays and 10am to 6pm bank holidays.

The PCC added the Chief Constable supports her proposals and the next steps, she added, were to conclude a review of the police estate and agree a schedule of work.

Addressing Petersfield residents at last week’s annual meeting, Mrs Jones said: “You will have a front desk and you’ll actually be able to come into the station itself and speak to a real-life human being, face to face.”

She added it “was unacceptable” that criminals with reporting conditions in Alton or Petersfield had to travel, often on public transport, to either Havant or Basingstoke when their town should have a station.