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Exmouth police enquiry office closure threat

13:39 23 May 2014

Archant

The public enquiry office at Exmouth Police Station is facing closure, under new proposals to save money.

The Exmouth office is one of 12 across Devon and Cornwall which have been earmarked for closure from Friday, October 31, this year.

Devon and Cornwall Police says its changes will save around £760,000 per annum, with the overall number of full-time equivalent public enquiry officer posts reduced from 61 to 34.

Assistant chief constable Paul Netherton said: “In the current financial climate, the force needs to make challenging decisions around how we best use our resources to benefit our communities.

“We are required to make difficult decisions in order to maintain visibility and maintain front line policing whenever possible.

“The force has carried out a review of how the public contact police in Devon and Cornwall and it has shown that the number of people physically calling at a police station continues to diminish. In even our busiest stations, this can be as low as five to six people an hour at peak times and for quieter stations can be no personal callers at all for periods of time.

“As a result, we will now formally consult with staff unions regarding how we use public enquiry offices to get the best value from the resources that we have.”

Reacting to the news, Exmouth mayor Bill Nash said it would fall to the town council to make a formal response, but speaking from a personal point of view said: “I think it is regrettable. People rely on somewhere they can walk into if they need to report something or need help.

“Not everybody has a computer or is comfortable going online.”

Exmouth Community Association chairman Roy Pryke said he had not consulted his members for their views, but on a personal basis said: “I think we have to accept that there are other ways of communicating with the police with modern media, and it is appreciated that they are having to work as efficiently as possible.

“The important thing is that they are responsive when called on, and that we sustain the sense of their presence even if we can’t access them directly over the counter.”

The force says the plan is subject to full consultation with a definitive decision expected in July.

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