OPENING hours at Accrington Police Station have been extended and manpower increased to provide a better service to the public and boost taxi drivers' confidence.
The police station's doors now remain open for an extra 18 hours a week after police chiefs agreed the improvement, which kicked in on Tuesday.
In his last week in charge of Accrington Police, Inspector Phil Cottam said: "About two years ago the opening hours were reduced by four hours a day."
"Instead of closing at midnight the station closed at 8pm."
"But now it will stay open until 10pm during the week and until midnight on Saturdays and Sundays."
"In addition the front desk will now be staffed by four people."
Chairman of the Hyndburn Taxi Drivers' Association, Mohammed Arif, praised the development and said he hoped it might signal a change to 24-hour opening.
He said: "It's fantastic news. People get in our cars and often they're drunk and abusive to the drivers. People refuse to pay, they do all sorts, but now drivers will have the confidence to go straight to the station where they can get help."
"We'll be able to drive passengers who give us trouble straight there. We have been campaigning for this since the station cut its hours and obviously we would like a 24-hour service eventually. But this is an improvement and we're pleased they reconsidered the hours."
Councillor Janet Storey, Cabinet member for community safety, said: "I would love to see the station open 24 hours a day but resources don't always cover everything. But the police have listened to the public and this is a much better arrangement. I'm very pleased by it."
Inspector Cottam added: "It's a step in the right direction and we hope Accrington residents approve. This will mean people who are unable to get to the station during normal working hours can call in after work if they have an issue."