Police hit back at petition against front desk closures

South Shields Police Station where the front desk service will have its hours reduced
South Shields Police Station where the front desk service will have its hours reduced

Northumbria Police have hit back at a petition which has been launched against its plans to reduce the hours of the force’s front desk services.

As of July 17, Hebburn will lose its front desk service while at the station at Millbank in South Shields will see its hours reduced from 24 hours a day seven-days-a-week to being open from 8am until 8pm.

The move has hit a nerve with local councillors who have contacted Northumbria Police over the lack of consultation ahead of the plans being announced.

The force says the changes do not affect the number of operational stations across the force area or the availability of their front line officers.

It also says trade unions have been involved since January in discussions on the proposed model and the impact on their members.

Police say the changes are also being made in response to a decline in the use of front offices and the cash saved will be used to support operational policing. Further investment will also be put into the 101 contact centres.

Chief and senior Officers are now meeting with councillors and partner organisations to discuss the changes and address any concerns. The online petition was launched in reaction to the cut in front desk hours.

The move has been described by union officials as ‘far too radical’.

Chief Constable Steve Ashman has said: “We are still wrestling with the impact of austerity and the cuts that we have faced in Northumbria are the largest of any force in the country.

“This has meant that we have to make difficult decisions whilst striving to deliver the best possible service to our communities. We know that the public want to see police officers on the street and we are changing the way we work in order to protect this.

“We also know that residents don’t want to have to go to a police station in order to report information; but rather report it in their own home and at a time that is convenient for them.

“We always strive to provide an outstanding service to everyone in our communities and this investment into online and social communication will enable us to continue to do that.”

People are being asked to raise their concerns over the plans with their local councillors and MPs.

To sign the petition visit www.change.org/p/dame-vera-baird-northumbria-pcc-steve-ashman-northumbria-chief-constable-northumbria-police-s-planned-station-closures-are-far-too-radical