9:00am Thursday 5th April 2012
POLICE stations are similar to post offices – a cornerstone service that the public seek as a reassuring presence in their town.
And, just like post offices, yesterday it was confirmed police are making a further retreat from interacting with the people they are employed to serve.
The “new opening hours for front counters”, as Thames Valley Police chose to phrase them, are nothing more than a savage cut to the number of hours anyone is able to drop into their local police station.
The force must make cuts, as is the case with any public body at the moment, but over the years it has increasingly made itself less available for face-to-face contact with you, the public.
For several years we have had the laughable situation that if you are assaulted near St Aldate’s police station and you go in to report it, you are directed to a telephone tucked away in a corner to speak to a call centre rather than an officer sat not many yards away.
Recently, you also started to be charged 15p every time you wanted to call police to report a crime, alert officers to an issue in your area or even be a good-spirited citizen and help them catch a crook.
From July, should you need to go to Witney police station at 11am on a Monday, you’ll find the door firmly locked. And what about those (admittedly rare) cases where someone is seeking a place of refuge – unless you’re being chased during opening hours midweek, you are left to your own devices.
Arguments for these reductions might just be able to be justified in black and white figures by bean counters.
But the intangible cost will be the perception of the police further distancing themselves from the public, operating more like a part-time voluntary service than the reassuring arm of the law.
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