Thursday, 9 October 2014

Police should share front desks with council rather than close down the service

Following the decision by the Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg to agree the closure of many of the police front desks across Cornwall, I have written to him asking him to talk urgently to the council about whether the police could share front desks with the council via our one stop shop network rather than close down the service.

Having easy access to the police is important to many residents and, while I understand the budget pressures facing the force, I am concerned that closing this many will have a significant impact on the local service. Cornwall Council is already talking to the force about sharing front desk services to some extent in Truro and I would hope that they would consider what could be done in other areas too.

Cornwall Council is facing massive budget challenges over the next four years and needs to save money in all areas. Combining our work with other public services, including the police, makes a lot of sense The two organisations could share costs and both could save money whilst preserving their service.

With the front desks scheduled to close on November 1st there is only a short time for action to preserve this service and I hope to hear back from Mr Hogg shortly.

Here is the text of my letter:
Dear Tony

Thanks for the meeting last Friday and for setting out the position of yourself and of the police regarding the closure of front desks including Launceston.

You will be aware that both Cornwall Council and the police are part of Cornwall's public sector group and Supt Julie Fielding is leading on the issue of property. Cornwall has also successfully bid to be part of the government's One Public Estate Project.

I appreciate the arguments made for closing front desks, but I know you will accept that there is still a desire among the public to have a face to face service from the police. Whilst you have said that the decision to close the desks will not be reversed, I am writing to ask whether you will agree to look further at co-operation between the police and council with a view to providing some police front counter services via our network of One Stop Shops.

I don't seek at this stage to prescribe what should or should not be the outcome of such talks, and there may well be some functions of the front counter which are inappropriate for our libraries and one stop shops. But I am of the view that it would be wrong not to at least explore the possibilities as a matter of urgency. As you yourself have said, the 101 service is still not working as it should and residents will be, in my view, rightly anxious about the decision to close their face to face access to police.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours

Alex Folkes
Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources


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