Cheshire Constabulary is asking for the public’s feedback on plans to have helpdesks at five police stations across the county.
Currently there are 16 helpdesks which have varying opening hours over five to seven days a week, but many are seldom used.
With more and more people now choosing to contact the police in different ways, the Constabulary is working to ensure the service it provides meets the changing needs of the public.
Under the new proposals a helpdesk service would be provided at police stations in Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes and Macclesfield. These helpdesks would be open to the public between 8am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday.
In addition, a virtual video link to a helpdesk officer will be available within the same opening hours at Northwich Police Station.
Assistant Chief Constable Bill Dutton said:
“Firstly I would like to reassure the public that these proposals will not reduce the level of service or the current police presence in Cheshire. Our operational teams and where we deploy our police officers and police community support officers from are unaffected.
“Since helpdesks were introduced in 2004 the landscape has changed significantly. A large proportion of the population have mobile phones and access to online services meaning the need for face-to-face contact is reducing.
“We have noticed that more people than ever are now choosing to report crime and interact with police online or via a mobile device, and as a police service we have to adapt to these changes in our society.
“It is important to reiterate that we are not proposing to close any police stations, and although some helpdesks would close under these proposals, these will be substituted by regular Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) surgeries.
“The savings we make will be reinvested into our force contact centre, helping improve our response times in answering 999 and 101 calls, which is a key priority for the Constabulary.
“This investment will also support our work in dealing with online enquiries, which we are seeing more and more of with the advancement of technology.
“However, it is really important we hear from our communities about these proposed changes and I want to encourage people to feedback to us during the consultation process.”
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, added:
“In my Police and Crime Plan I talk about delivering a modern police service, and that includes changing the way the Constabulary works so that it reflects the ways that the public are contacting the police.
“I want people to have confidence in our police service so it’s vital that everyone has their say on these proposals. More people are interacting with the police online but I want to make it clear that the Constabulary’s visible presence will increase.
“The Chief Constable and I are steadfast in our commitment to increasing the police presence across Cheshire by taking our officer numbers to their highest ever level on our current boundaries – a total of 2,347.
“We are investing in our force control centre, bringing 101 waiting times down and getting officers out quicker to both 999 and 101 calls. The budget I have approved for 2022/23 includes a further £1.3 million investment on top of this, putting more frontline staff where they are best placed in order to take your call in your moment of need.
“People consistently feed back to me that the police need to invest more in the ways that people want to contact us and prioritise resources efficiently. That is what these proposals aim to do.”