POLICE CHIEF ON PLANNED CHANGES
Deputy Chief Constable moves to reassure as counters are closed
A TOP cop has answered people’s questions about plans to reduce Thames Valley Police’s front counter services.
On Tuesday, December 22 Thames Valley Police held an online live questions and answers session where the Deputy Chief Constable, John Campbell answered questions from members of the public on the planned closure of a number of its front counters. Front counters set to close include those in Chesham and Gerrards Cross.
With more than 80 questions unfortunately the Deputy Chief Constable was not able to answer all of them in the time allocated, so the force has collated his answers to a range of questions asked via email, Facebook, Twitter and live in the chat. For more information go to www.thamesvalley.police. uk How will people be able to contact the police 24/7 when it’s not an emergency or 999 call? As they do now by calling 101. Relatively few people call into police stations, but if needs be they can still visit one of the 16 open across the Force. The public can also contact us via our social media channels, our community messaging system Thames Valley Alerts as well as find information and advice on our website www. thamesvalley.police.uk/ home.htm Will this impact vulnerable/elderly/ disabled people or people that don’t have access to technology, and what is being done to counteract this? We don’t anticipate those who are less comfortable with technology being adversely affected, as the great majority do have access to a phone. However we are looking to develop better technology in these areas where we think it will help. Also bear in mind that if a member of the public needs to see a police officer in most cases we visit them, at a place or time of their choosing. We currently have in place a community messaging system, Thames Valley alert, which allows members of the public to receive emails, texts or voice calls about crime in their area. We also have a textphone option for those people who are deaf, hardof-hearing and speechimpaired to contact the emergency services. Will this mean that police officers are further away from me? Will officers take longer to get to me if I need them? Bear in mind that we do all we can to ensure that police patrol officers are actually out in the community and not sitting in police stations, so we don’t anticipate any reduction in patrol or response times. Closing a front office at a police station does not mean that the officers are leaving too, just the enquiry counter. What will be the impact on staff jobs and morale in the force? Are you making staff redundant? As we are reducing the number of Front Counters , we will be reducing the number of staff in those roles. That’s where we get the £550k of savings. We told the staff a number of weeks ago and if they don’t remain doing their current roles under the new structure, we will work hard to redeploy them within TVP. These are good people and it is no reflection on them that the Force sees the need to change how we do things. How will offenders comply with bail conditions where they need to visit a front counter? They will still need to do it but at one of the 16 that remain open. As its stands at the moment the 34 Front Counters offered a range of services and not all were suitable for bail sign on. However, as of 1 April 2016 all of the front counters will offer the same level of service, including answering bail. If the counters are so underused why are you keeping any of them open? Why not close them all to save money?
Some Front Offices are used a lot more than others and they are the ones we are keeping. By way of example some Front Counters were only visited a few times a week that they were open, whilst the busiest one was visited 135 times a week. Does fewer counters mean the roles of specials, PCSOs and Police Officers will change? Will you have more specials, PCSOs and Police Officers in the Thames Valley on patrol? Well unfortunately we are still dealing with the consequence of the cuts so we don’t necessarily anticipate more officers on patrol, but we are working hard at maintaining the numbers as much as we can. What we have seen is an increase in crimes such as rape and domestic abuse and we are also concerned about cyber crime. We are pleased that people are feeling more confident to report things to us but we also know that these are often areas where a number of crimes are not disclosed so we don’t have a full picture yet. In that respect we have increased the numbers of specialist staff in these areas but may have to do more.