Sunday, 22 October 2017

Police station information desk to close

THE public information desk at Henley police station will close next year.

THE public information desk at Henley police station is to be closed to save money.

Thames Valley Police announced on Monday that it is to axe 18 of the 34 front counters across the force area from April 1.

Shutting the desk at Henley police station in Greys Road will save about £21,000 and it is understood that one job will be affected.

The police say that most members of the public now contact them by phone or online rather than in person. But Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier said: ?It was important to keep the public desk open because the police are becoming faceless in the town. It is good for the community that there is that point of contact.

?I hope the police have a re-think. I have not spoken to them about it but I would hope we can have some talks and find a way forward.

?The town council is committed to funding a police community support officer but, to my mind, the desk is every bit as important.?

Police say the counters are used for 20,000 interactions each year, mostly for lost and found. Each visit to a counter costs between £2.34 and £20.75.

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 have found that more people are engaging with us on the phone, online or through our social media channels rather than visiting their local police 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 that fewer people are visiting our front counters, especially overnight, therefore we are revising this provision.

?We are 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 ten miles of a front counter.

?Staff at our front counters have been notified of our proposed changes and are being consulted. 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.?

The force is also to carry out a review of its buildings and will give up ones no longer fit for purpose or too expensive to maintain.

Mr Campbell said: ?These changes to our estate are estimated to bring savings of £29million by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7million per annum.

?I wish to reassure the public we are by no means withdrawing from our communities and the availability and visibility of police officers to attend incidents is not affected.?

Thames Valley Police has to cut its budget by £13million for the year from April 1 and by another £33million over the two years after that. The force has made £71million in savings since 2010.

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