Police enquiry office in Honiton could face closure

10:38 16 May 2014

Archant

Honiton’s public enquiry office could face closure as Devon and Cornwall Police announce new proposals following a forcewide review.

The proposed changes are expected to save around £760,000 per annum. Honiton and Exmouth would close if the new proposals are given the go ahead.

Speaking today about the proposal to close the enquiry office at Honiton local MP Neil Parish, at a meeting of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “It does concern me. I have written to the chief constable to review the situation.”

Public enquiry offices in Totnes, Tiverton, Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Falmouth, Penzance, Bude, Liskeard and Launceston would also close.

Although, offices at Plymouth Charles Cross, Torquay and Exeter Heavitree Road will remain open for six days a week between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturday.

Exact details around opening hours and staffing are still to be confirmed.

The overall number of full-time equivalent public enquiry officer posts will be reduced from 61 to 34 as part of the plan.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: “In the current financial climate the force needs to make challenging decisions around how we best use our resources to benefit our communities.

“We are required to make difficult decisions in order to maintain visibility and maintain front line policing whenever possible.

“The force has carried out a review of how the public contact police in Devon and Cornwall and it has shown that the amount of people physically calling at a police station continues to diminish.

“In even our busiest stations this can be as low as five to six people an hour at peak times and for quieter stations can be no personal callers at all for periods of time.

“As a result, we will now formally consult with staff unions regarding how we use public enquiry offices to get the best value from the resources that we have.

“The force currently receives around one million contacts a year from the public via 999, 101 and contact with the Force Enquiry Centre and force website. This number far outweighs the amount of people actually attending a police station.

“With the development of online communication and further investment in technology, it is only likely to reduce further.”

ACC Netherton added: “While we may be reducing the amount of Public Enquiry Offices immediately accessible to the public, the number of operational police stations is not changing and police officers and staff will still work from those stations affected by the Public Enquiry Office Review.

“While closing some enquiry offices has an inevitable effect on staff and a change in the way we operate as a Force, the considerable savings are expected to be in excess of £ 750,000 per year and the force is faced with making difficult decisions about the way in which we deliver services to our communities.

“Maintaining a visible presence in our communities remains a critical factor and we will do everything possible to target resources and achieve this. It is hoped this review will further allow us to increase visibility away from traditional police sites.

ACC Netherton further added: “Innovation is key and having a more mobile police presence means a better, more efficient and visible police service.

“We are committed to maintaining community based services and working with partner agencies to do this in the most efficient way possible.

“It is important to emphasise that this plan is subject to full consultation with a definitive decision expected in July.”

Following consultation the changes, if given the go ahead, would take place later in the year.

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