AN MP fears the good work of police to tackle drugs and antisocial behaviour in a town could be undone when it has to share its sergeant with another community.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman branded Durham police’s decision to remove a dedicated sergeant from Shildon as absurd.

The force has decided to reduce the number of sergeants in south Durham from three to two, leaving one responsible for both Shildon and Sedgefield. They will split their time equally between the two areas.

Ms Goodman said: “The Sergeant responsible for Shildon will now also cover Sedgefield, another large and diverse area more than 12 miles away. “This is absurd, and cannot make any financial or practical sense.

“This is unfair to Shildon residents who were reassured that the Sergeant would not be withdrawn from the town and were not asked to consult on the decision.

“Sgt Andy Boyd was instrumental in rebuilding Shildon’s confidence in Durham Constabulary, in particular it’s work to tackle drugs and antisocial behaviour.

"That work is now being undone as residents are understandably worried about the risk of increasing crime.”

Ms Goodman raised her concerns with chief constable Mike Barton and urged him to reverse the decision.

A Durham police spokeswoman said it came in the wake of increased demand in other parts of the county and ongoing cuts.

She said: “We have had to ensure we have even coverage of supervision across the county.

“We do not take this decision lightly and would like to reassure residents of Shildon that there are no changes to the numbers of Police Constables and Police Community Support Officers on the team and the town will still receive the best level of policing and supervisory support.”

Shildon Town Council has asked for assurances that policing levels will be upheld and raised the matter with Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg at its last meeting.

Town clerk Tracey Bellas said: “It is not an ideal situation for Shildon, we want the correct levels of policing so people feel safe here.”

Mr Hogg said the force must best deploy resources at a time of rising demand and government cuts.

He said: “I know that the Force will keep this arrangement under review, and I have requested that I be kept informed of how it is working.

"I want to reassure our communities that I continue to challenge the Government on their decision and campaign for fair funding for Durham Constabulary.”