Last week I began my tour of the six police enquiry offices I am reopening in the third phase of my £1.5m project to bring face-to-face policing back to communities in Devon and Cornwall. 

Beginning in Devonport and Looe, and continuing in Okehampton, Ilfracombe, Kingsbridge and Honiton in the coming weeks, these visits are a great opportunity to take a look at how the plans are shaping up and meet the neighbourhood inspectors who will no doubt be looking forward to welcoming the public when the front desks open later this financial year. 

Earlier this year I was delighted to open officially front desks in Newton Abbot, Truro, Falmouth, Penzance, Bude and Tiverton and further four will reopen in the next financial year. When the project to rebuild Exmouth Police Station is complete, this will bring the total number reopened to 27. 

It cannot be underestimated how important these stations will be to our communities. At a time when confidence in policing is in the spotlight, giving people the chance to speak in person to a friendly face can only be a good thing. They can not only report a crime, but also get crime prevention advice and information on victim support services. 

We know there are many reasons why people want to speak to someone in person; we have seen an example where a victim of sexual violence has only reported it because they could come to an enquiry office. And you only have to look at the reaction to recent plans to close railway station ticket offices to see what it means to the public, especially those who are older or more vulnerable. 

In the first few months of the last six front desks being open, 2,600 people have come in to use the service. That’s a huge number not adding to the 101 call or email queue. I’m confident we will see these numbers continue to strengthen, especially during the summer months when we see a significant increase to our population with millions of holidaymakers flocking to our two counties. 

And when not dealing with members of the public, Police Enquiry Officers will be answering emails sent via 101, helping to ease the pressure on the service which is still experiencing lengthy wait times. 

In Looe I was delighted to meet a neighbourhood inspector who is working in hand with local authority members and taking decisive action to tackle shoplifting which is causing a real problem to small businesses in the town. 

To be able to invest extra resource in this town, in the form of police enquiry officers who will be on hand to talk to shopkeepers about this problem and to present police with intelligence about the culprits, will really help to keep this as a low crime neighbourhood.  

Devonport police station has never had a front desk, so opening one means Plymouth will have three across the city.