Changes To Counter Service Provision and Estates
By Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill
This time last year, the Force announced their intention to close twelve out of the fifteen front office counters. As a result of my intervention and the response of the public, a year long consultation took place which leads us to closing six.I know that six front office counters are six too many, but we have to meet our cuts somewhere when we are losing 20% of our budget.
If you look at Sherborne, an eight hundred signature petition was handed to the Chief Constable. We did listen and Sherborne retains its policing front office counter presence. Likewise in North Dorset, the community highlighted specific concerns and as a result have retained their front office counter.
By way of context, Dorset Police conducted a public survey in 2012 to look at future counter service provision. Due to public concern over these initial proposals, this was repeated in 2014 to look at footfall going into police stations. In some locations, it is costing over £100 for each member of the public to walk into a police station and for their issue to be dealt with. It does not represent good value for money to keep stations open to deal with four or five people a day, especially when most issues are not police related issues.
I know the decision to close Ferndown is upsetting to many, but my message to staff and the public is please bear with us. The reality is that if you lose a fifth of your budget, you are going to lose a significant amount of resource including some estate. I have to make savings. Ferndown is a great facility but it is in the wrong location and the public of Ferndown deserve a police footprint in the centre of their town.
I would like to reassure you that in relation to these issues, the voice of the public has been listened to and has informed our decision making process. The Force is operating in hard financial times and difficult choices have to be made. We know these decisions will be disappointing news for some people and we are committed to providing alternative provisions where possible. In the face of huge budget cuts, I strongly believe that these decisions are the right ones to best meet the current and future operational needs of the county.