Dorset Police station desk enquiry offices stakeholder engagement
The PCC and I are writing to inform you of our proposals and planned stakeholder engagement with regard to the future of our Counter Services and the provision of Station Desk Enquiry Offices. Engagement will take a variety of formats and will be as extensive as is possible to manage.
In 2011, we consulted with key stakeholders regarding a demand led proposal to rationalise this service. Due to the resulting public concern to keep front offices open, the force agreed to compromise on a way forward, on the understanding that this area of business would be subject to a future review in respect of demand. It was still necessary for the force to make the proposed savings and so these were made elsewhere within the force.
We are sure that you appreciate the need to maximise value for scarce resources. As the fourth lowest spending force in England and Wales you will appreciate we are doing everything within our power to maintain our operational capability. Difficult choices are having to be made, not least because we have one of the smallest ‘back office’ functions of any police force in the country, which means that there are extremely limited opportunities to make further savings in this regard. Therefore, as part of continuing budget cuts, it has been necessary to revisit the original proposal for the Station Desk Enquiry Offices. As you will appreciate many other forces have been, or are in a similar situation and we are by no means unusual in having to review our service within this area.
The 2013 review of this area reflects the same level of demand as it did in 2011. Habits have changed. The 2012/13 community survey showed that 77% of the public prefer to contact the Force by phone, with 75% contacting the force through the non-emergency number. Demand combined with the running costs means a necessary change in how we will continue to deliver a future service.
We are aware that any changes, particularly with regard to Counter Services or Station Enquiry Offices are likely to generate much local interest and discussion. We will be in communication with key stakeholders over the next two months with regard to the proposals. I would hope that this communication will help to inform people of the rationale for change and also to help identify gaps in provision and how we can fill them.
We would be particularly pleased to hear any thoughts and ideas you may have regarding joint working, shared accommodation or any innovative solutions to a shared approach to sponsorship or volunteers that could assist our joint working, give greater value for money and deliver an enhanced, integrated service to the public in your local area.
At this time we would like to reassure you that no final decisions have been made regarding the nature of Station Desk Enquiry Office provision in Dorset. However, we have to meet a very challenging budgetary situation. Please be assured this will be done in line with providing the best possible service to the public in Dorset, whilst reflecting true demand and value for money.
The potential closure of Station Desks does not mean the closure of the respective Police Station itself, and the force continues to ensure that there is a policing footprint in every town in Dorset.
Alternative provisions will be made available, this includes the telephone facility which will continue to be available at all stations as a means for the public to make direct contact with the Force Command Centre; Further promotion of the non-emergency contact number (101); and enhanced contact will be established via the Dorset Police Website.
In the meantime, please feel free to make contact so that we can work together and alleviate any particular concerns you may have.
Debbie Simpson Martyn Underhill
Chief Constable Police & Crime Commissioner