Cuts hit po­lice counter ser­vice

Buck­ing­hamshire force seeks to re­as­sure peo­ple it is not ‘with­draw­ing from com­mu­ni­ties’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

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.”

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