Deputy Chief Con­sta­ble moves to re­as­sure as coun­ters are closed

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

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.

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