Monday, 14 May 2012

Cumbria Constabulary asks for communities’ views as part of review into front counter services

 Cumbria Constabulary is asking local communities to voice their opinions as it reviews its front counter services as part of the ongoing work to save £20million by 2015/16.

Cumbria Constabulary currently invests £1million per year on keeping front counters open throughout the county. These are ‘reception’ areas in police premises that members of the public visit for various reasons such as to arrange to speak to a police officer, to provide driving documents or report lost and stolen property.

As it strives to meet the 20 per cent reduction in its budget as a result of Government cuts, Cumbria Constabulary is undertaking a review to establish whether its current front counter services could be provided differently in order to reduce costs while still delivering a high quality service to local people.

As part of the review, Cumbria Constabulary has produced a questionnaire for members of the public which will be published on its website this week (, available at front counters and will be issued to community voice which is a group of more than 2000 people across Cumbria that organisations use for public consultation.

The review takes into consideration a number of factors including the make-up of local communities, the cost of providing the service in comparison to other forces and how many people actually use the front counter services. It also considers how legal requirements have changed as technology has developed. For example, thanks to new police computer systems, there are far fewer occasions where people are required by law to present their vehicle documents in police stations nowadays.

Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said, “The priority for Cumbria Constabulary is to protect the community, investigate crime and prosecute criminals. We now have a significantly smaller budget so we must find ways of saving money that have the least impact on frontline policing. Our challenge is to continue providing an excellent policing service to the people of Cumbria on a reduced budget, so we are making some difficult choices.

“During our last annual consultation we asked the public about contacting the police. We were informed that 58 per cent of the public preferred to contact us via the telephone in non-emergencies and 29 per cent think that we should make greater use of electronic ways of contacting people.

“We are using this information to explore the different ways in which the public can contact police and access the services they need at a reduced cost - so getting local communities’ input is vital. We are consulting with them to find out how they currently use police services and what their opinions are of our various proposals for the future.”

A series of options are being considered as part of the review:

·         The first option would see police front counter services reduce from 17 that are currently available across the county, to five main premises only - Barrow, Kendal, Workington, Whitehaven and Durranhill in Carlisle - with reduced hours of opening to reflect the public’s demand for service.
·         The second option would see police front counter services at five main premises (as detailed in option one) and part time opening times at a further five locations -Ulverston, Windermere, Cockermouth, Brampton and Penrith.
·         The third option involves using other agencies (such as local councils or fire stations) to provide access to police services to support either option one or two.
·         Option four suggests making better use of existing resources like mobile police stations and vandal proof phones at police premises to enable members of the public to get in quick contact with police.

Chief Constable Hyde continued “As part of our organisational reviews, we have reduced the number of police premises that officers are deployed from. This, along with today’s technology which makes contacting police so much easier, has significantly reduced the number of visitors we have to police stations and offices.

“We currently spend around £1million a year on maintaining our front counter services – which equates to the amount we would need to employ around thirty police officers.

“With data showing that front counter visitor numbers are reducing considerably, it is only right that we look at how we can be more efficient. We are working with partners to explore any collaboration opportunities that could allow us to continue providing an excellent service at reduced costs. For example, a pilot is currently underway in Carlisle where Carlisle City Council staff have been trained to provide the public with access to our services from the Civic Centre.

“We hope that the public will use this opportunity to share their views so that we can take these into account when the final decisions are made by Chief Officers and members of Cumbria’s Police Authority.

“The public consultation will end on 31 May 2012 and the findings will inform the recommendations that are made to the Chief Officer Group. We will also remain in close contact with our staff to ask for their opinions as the review progresses. Those who may be affected by the proposed changes are being asked for their views and we are supporting them as best we can.”

Members of the public can complete the questionnaire and return it to a local police station or by post to Chief Inspector Mairi Stamper, Cumbria Constabulary Police Headquarters, Penrith, Cumbria. CA10 2AU.

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