This prompted some twitter conversation this evening so I thought I'd blog a bit about it.
For a start, I didn't believe there were more Tescos open 24 hours, seven days per week than police stations in Essex so I did a bit of research of my own. I even plotted the results in a Google Map:
View Tescos v Police: 24 hours servcies in Essex in a larger map
Red - 24/7 Police Stations
Blue - 'nearly' 24/7 Tescos
Purple - 24/7 Tesco (Brentwood)
The results were quite interesting. There are 15 '24 hour' Tescos in Essex but only one of these are genuinely open 24/7. All the others are open 24/7 for 5 days of the week, normally Tuesday - Saturday with regular hours on Sundays and Mondays.
In contrast there are 11 police stations open 24/7 out of a total of 49 station which are open to the public.
I think Richard Edwards, the Telegraph Crime Correspondent may need to dig a bit deeper into the Tescos stats and check those '24/7' claims again. If there is only 1 genuine 24/7 Tescos in Essex, it is likely that there are more like 50 - 75 nationwide, not 394 as reported. Unfortunately, the storefinder on the Tescos website offers many options to filter stores but there is no 24/7 filter!
This leads on to another debate. Can you really compare a public service paid for by the tax payer and a commercial business driven by profit?
How many people need to go shopping (and how often) compared to those needing to visit a police station? We visit Sainsburys 3 or 4 times a week and spend several hours in there in total. I don't think I have ever needed to visit a police station except for my job (and that doesn't count). If every family in the UK had a need to spend several hours per week in a police station, there would be many more and they would probably be as big as your average Tescos or Sainsburys.
I have had a need to use an airport more often in the last 25 years than I have had need of a police station. However, I think it is OK that there is only 1 airport in Essex and only three international airports in the region. I'm not demanding that there should be 15 airports in Essex so why should there need to be 15 24/7 police stations?