The proposals include closing ten desks and reducing opening hours of the others. All the proposals are based on a detailed analysis of current use and are supported by a range of improvements to other contact methods such as telephone and online crime reporting.
Now stakeholders and the public are being asked for their views on the proposals, but with a clear message that savings have to be delivered and the public demands on Constabulary are no longer in stations but out in the community and on the telephone.
The business case put forward by Constabulary suggests that £1.4m of the current £2.8m spent providing the front counters service can be saved and is based on evidence that:
- Fewer crimes are now reported via police stations but demand on the telephone contact centre continues to grow with more than 2,400 calls dealt with every day
- The cost of serving a member of the public at each station varies from £5.77 at the busiest stations and £44.23 at the quietest, based on hours worked and number of people seen
- Much of the work of front desks such as immigration registrations, some driving and vehicle checks has moved online reducing their use still further.
Clive Grunshaw said: “Firstly I want to reassure our communities this review will not change the way areas are policed. Front counters are not staffed by police officers and this review will not impact on officer numbers.
“Of course these changes are taking place as part of the way the Constabulary looks to manage the continuing cuts to its funding by Government.
“But it is more than just that, what the Constabulary wants to do is ensure services provide value for money and are delivered in a way that people want to receive them.
“We have to look at how the public want to report crimes and make sure that service receives the investment it needs. The public have been voting with their feet for some time and the front counters proposed for closure serve only three to ten people a day.”
Chief Superintendent Peter Lawson, the senior officer responsible for the review said: “The Constabulary has conducted a thorough review of the front counter service and it shows their use by the public continues to fall. Some of this is due to changes to processes such as immigration checks and some vehicle checks which are moving online, but in the main it is due to improved technology and greater use of phones.
“Our enquiry desk staff perform a valuable role and this needs to be maintained, but not at the current level which far outweighs demand. Members of the public will still be able to contact local officers, engage with local policing teams and gain the help and support they need.”
Should the changes go ahead they would come into force form January 2018. Additional investment is already been made into online reporting and improvements to technology will further enhance the service next year.
Full details of the proposed changes can be seen below:
Representations are requested in writing to the Commissioner’s office, Front Counter Review, County Hall, Pitt Street, Preston PR1 0LD or via email@example.com (please mark your email FRONT COUNTER REVIEW in the subject box and ensure you leave your contact details if you require a response. The deadline for responses is 21 July, 2017.