A councillor is calling on police chiefs to reverse a decision to close a ‘face-to-face’ service in the borough.
Coun Adam Ellison has written to Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird to highlight his concerns at Hebburn residents losing face to face contact with officers.
The move comes after police chiefs announced that, as of July 17, the town will lose its front office service currently based in Hebburn Central.
It is one of three set to close as part of cost cutting measures and Northumbria Police say the savings will ploughed back into operational policing with further investment put into 101 contact centres.
The others to close are in Amble and Killingworth.
The decision to close the service left councillors concerned for the area’s older and more vulnerable residents. The councillors also say they were also not consulted on the move.
Two years ago Hebburn lost its police station with officers moving into Hebburn Fire Station. However, a front office service was made available within Hebburn Central.
He is now calling on decision makers to “review the decision” and “to find a more suitable solution.”
In a letter sent to the PCC Coun Ellison wrote: “I am concerned about the impact the closure will have on our older residents and less ICT literate members of the community as I note that Northumbria Police are enhancing their ‘digital, telephone and social media contact service’.
“However, as mentioned many either do not have ICT facilities or feel comfortable using them.”
The letter went on to say while he appreciated budgets are decreasing he was not certain this was the right move for Hebburn.
He added: “I am disappointed I have only learned of this after a decision has been taken.”
His concerns have been echoed by Unison who have also raised concerns the moves could lead to job losses and some staff receiving a 25% pay cut.
UNISON regional organiser, Peter Chapman said: “The Customer Enquiry Clerks (CEC) who work in these stations are highly trained in supporting the public and if these plans go ahead it will inevitably lead to redundancies plus a large number of staff receiving a 25% pay cut.
There may well be a need to discuss how stations provide this service in the future however UNISON believes the plans due to be implemented within the next few weeks are far too radical and the timescale far too tight – we call on the Force to abandon the current proposals and embark upon a more timely and meaningful consultation with all those involved. “