Charities urge Norfolk Constabulary to rethink closure of police offices

Charities urge Norfolk Constabulary to rethink closure of police offices

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Peter Walsh1
Thursday, February 5, 2015

9:24 AM

Charities have urged police chiefs to remember the needs of victims and older people after the force announced plans to close public enquiry offices (PEOs) across the county.

Norfolk police plan to shut the PEOs at Attleborough, Diss, Gorleston and Swaffham, and reduce the opening hours of others, to help meet government cuts.

The changes, which would save more than 360,000, have been revealed as it emerges the force, which remains on track to meet the bulk of the 20m savings required by 2018, is likely to have to find an additional 5m of savings by 2020.

Police chiefs insist the plans follow a review which showed a falling number of people physically calling at police stations, and that the closures would not have a detrimental impact on communities. But some concerns have been raised.

Kate Biles, divisional manager for Victim Support in Norfolk and Suffolk, said while she appreciated police needed to make cuts, the important thing from a victim s point of view is that if they contact police by phone, email, or however else, they get a follow up visit.

She said: If they are going to do this they must ensure they get back to people promptly and in a way that suits the victim.

A spokesman for Age UK Norfolk said while many older people did prefer face-to-face contact they were not sure how many walk into police stations.

The spokesman said it would be important to have better signposting for older people using phone or online services to contact police.

But of far greater concern was the reduction of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) posts announced by the force last year.

The spokesman said: Most of the referrals we get are via PCSOs in the community who, I think, do a sterling job with older people.

The loss of PCSOs could create a problem for a lot of older people and will definitely have a greater impact.

Chief Superintendent Nick Davison, county policing commander, said the changes are necessary to help the force not only bridge the 20.3m gap by 2018 and the additional 5m by 2020, but also to protect the front line by keeping boots on the ground .

He said: The chief has insisted it s time to protect the front line boots on the ground police officers.

Every part of the organisation has been looked at and has been since 2009 and it now unfortunately falls to public enquiry offices to come under that level of scrutiny.

The force has already made savings of 14m since 2010,

The changes come after a thorough review, part of which found that between January 2013 and December 2013 the force had a total of 447,000 contacts with the public, including 999 calls, 101 calls, and dealings with PEOs.

Of the PEO dealings, just 1.1pc were from the four PEOs which are to close to the public.

Chief Supt Davison said the way the public is contacting police is changing, with more people calling, using social media, or visiting the website.

He insisted the police need to change and adapt to reflect this.

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