Cuts hit police counter service
Buckinghamshire force seeks to reassure people it is not ‘withdrawing from communities’
The force currently has 10 front counters in Bucks and it is proposing to reduce this to four.
Most people use front counters for lost and found, with approximately 20,000 interactions each year.
This is a non-statutory provision, and the vast majority of these interactions are by phone.
Each visit to a front counter costs the force between £2.34 and £20.75.
The force says people will never be more than 10 miles front a front counter.
The changes are scheduled to come in on April 1, 2016. Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and High Wycombe front counters will now be open from 8am and 10pm, seven days a week.
Meanwhile, the front counter at Amersham will be open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Previously, each front counter would offer a different level of service but these counters will offer all services to the public.
Front counters at Chesham, Gerrards Cross, Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Wolverton and Buckingham are scheduled to close.
Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell said: “The way people interact with the police is changing; the public want to contact us at a time and place that’s convenient to them.
“We’ve found that more people are engaging with us on the phone, online or through our social media channels rather than visiting station.
“Earlier this year we undertook a review of the varying services provided at front counters, the public usage and the associated costs. Analysis of demand has shown us that fewer people are visiting our front counters, especially overnight, therefore we are revising this provision.
“We’re proposing to reduce the number of front counters available to the public across the force, with all front counters now offering the same service. In order to minimise the impact in the main the public will be within 10 miles of a front counter.
“It’s also proposed the counters will operate two sets of opening hours according to local need; a seven days a week provision or weekday provision.
“Staff our front counters have been notified of our proposed
their local police
at changes and are being consulted with. At this stage no staff have been put at risk.
“Bricks and mortar has little to do with policing, therefore officers and staff are being empowered to be more mobile in their work with the use of smart phones, tablets, laptops and WiFi connection in vehicles.
“These changes are part of a larger review of our estate, as part of a programme called asset management. We are relinquishing buildings that are no longer fit for purpose or expensive to maintain. These changes to our estate are estimated to bring savings of £29m by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7m per annum.
“I wish to reassure the public we’re by no means withdrawing from our communities and the availability and visibility of police officers to attend incidents is not affected by front counter opening times. Across the Thames Valley we have substantial resources to deploy to any incident.”
Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “With a smaller budget and an ever increased demand on policing, it’s vital that we look at ways we can improve the way we operate.
“We don’t want to see our buildings sitting empty, unused and costing money when the funding that’s saved can go into other areas where it is needed such as new technology, protecting vulnerable people, child abuse and domestic abuse.
“A review of our estate and the reinvestment of savings from the closing of assets that are under utilised will support the delivery of a more efficient and effective service to communities across the Thames Valley.”