Thames Valley Police is proposing to reduce the number of front counters in Oxfordshire.
In times of austerity the Force needs to look at ways to transform how it delivers services in order to be as effective and efficient as possible, whilst maximising every opportunity to prevent crime, protect the public and bring offenders to justice.
The way people interact with the police is changing; the public want to contact us at a time and place that’s convenient to them – with more people engaging with us on the phone or online. A total of 86% people told us they prefer to contact police on the phone in a non emergency, based on a survey of 9,187 people.
Therefore, we are proposing to close a number of front counters in the county as we improve our communication with the public by other means while ensuring that in the main you will never be further than ten miles from a front counter.
The public can still contact the police by telephone, via our website, social media accounts or our community alert system.
The following changes are scheduled to come in on 1 April 2016:
Abingdon, St Aldates and Banbury front counters will now be open from 8am and 10pm, seven days a week.
Meanwhile, front counters at Witney and Bicester will be open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, while Kidlington will be open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Previously, each front counter would offer a different level of service but these counters will offer all services to the public.
Front counters at Cowley, Henley, Didcot, Thame, Wantage, Faringdon, Wallingford, Carterton, Woodstock and Chipping Norton are scheduled to close.
Thames Valley Police continues to review its estate and will relinquish buildings that are no longer fit for purpose or expensive to maintain. These overall changes are estimated to bring savings of £29m by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7m per annum.
Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell said:
“The way people interact with the police is changing; the public want to contact us at a time and place that’s convenient to them. We have found that more people are engaging with us on the phone, online or through our social media channels rather than visiting their local police station.
“Earlier this year we undertook a review of the varying services provided at front counters, the public usage and the associated costs. Analysis of demand has shown us that fewer people are visiting our front counters, especially overnight, therefore we are revising this provision.
“We are proposing to reduce the number of front counters available to the public across the force, with all front counters now offering the same service. In order to minimise the impact in the main the public will be within ten miles of a front counter.
“It is also proposed the counters will operate two sets of opening hours according to local need; a seven days a week provision or weekday provision.
“Staff at our front counters have been notified of our proposed changes and are being consulted with. At this stage no staff have been put at risk.
“Bricks and mortar has little to do with policing, therefore officers and staff are being empowered to be more mobile in their work with the use of smart phones, tablets, laptops and
wifi connection in vehicles.
“These changes are part of a larger review of our estate, as part of a programme called asset management. We are relinquishing buildings that are no longer fit for purpose or expensive to maintain. These changes to our estate are estimated to bring savings of £29m by 2021 and a combined revenue saving of approximately £1.7m per annum.
“I wish to reassure the public we are by no means withdrawing from our communities and the availability and visibility of police officers to attend incidents is not affected by front counter opening times. Across the Thames Valley we have substantial resources to deploy to any incident.”
The public can still contact the police 24-hours a day by calling 101 in a non-emergency call or 999 in an emergency. For the deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired you can contact the Force by texting 18000.
More and more of our services are moving online. The public can access information, crime prevention advice, report a crime or find contact details for local neighbourhood teams by visiting our website www.thamesvalley.police.uk
Anthony Stansfeld Police and Crime Commissioner said: “With a smaller budget and an ever increased demand on policing, it is vital that we look at ways we can improve the way we operate.
“We don’t want to see our buildings sitting empty, unused and costing money when the funding that’s saved can go into other areas where it is needed such as new technology, protecting vulnerable people, child abuse and domestic abuse.
“A review of our estate and the reinvestment of savings from the closing of assets that are underutilised will support the delivery of a more efficient and effective service to communities across the Thames Valley”.