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Devon and Cornwall to re-open four police station front counters

Devon and Cornwall PCC has revealed plans to open four more police station front desks before the end of 2022.

Police Enquiry Offices in Tiverton, Penzance, Newton Abbot and Falmouth will be opened by December as part of PCC Alison Hernandez’s commitment to re-open front offices.

A temporary front desk which was opened in 2020 in Newquay will also remain open permanently.

The plans have now been approved by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer and PCC Hernandez, with a cost estimate of about £186,000 in 2022/23.

The Commissioner and the force have also committed to exploring opening more front desks in the coming years.

217 police stations and counters closed between 2015 and 2021 across England and Wales. 

At the start of the year, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) pushed to re-open stations in spite of budget pressures and the demand to shift to online reporting of crime. It was seen as the first time PCCs set a “policy u-turn”. The Home Office, however, are under pressure from the Treasury to sell public sector sites. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “Police stations offer a place of refuge for victims and a point of contact between the police and the public they serve. They are hugely reassuring for many people, enabling crimes to be reported, victims to be protected and information to flow freely between the force and the public it serves.

“I have been very vocal about the public’s desire to see some of these front offices reopened, and the importance of establishing greater communication and understanding between the force and residents, so am really pleased to see progress on this landmark project – it shows that our police stand side by side with our communities in tackling crime.

“We know that when people have contact with police officers their confidence in the force increases. With police officer numbers set to reach record levels in Devon and Cornwall Police thanks to investment by our communities it is right that we maximise opportunities for the public to talk to officers and staff directly.

“We will not stop there. I believe the force should be more visible so am engaged in talks to work out where more enquiry offices might be opened to best serve the public.”

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “I warmly welcome the investment by the PCC and the public within Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as well as the uplift in police numbers provided by Government.

“This provides an opportunity to open some police stations across the force area. There is a clear business case and merit for these new opportunities which the force will continue to monitor in discussion with the PCC, recognising that in a digital age and across such a wide geography, there must be a blended means of public access to the force and that the force must seek to be present in the digital space alongside the physical space.

“During the pandemic we saw a significant increase in the number of people using our website and calling 101, however, there many people who continue to see the value in face to face contact within the reassuring setting of a police station.

“I am pleased that we will be continuing to explore further options of increasing our access through call centres and other digital mediums, as well as the exciting potential to open more front desks in the years to come.”  

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