Thames Valley Police is seeking the public’s views on the future of the force’s front counter provision.
A consultation opened today (Monday, January 4) to allow residents of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire to have a say on the future of front counter services.
TVP said it is reviewing front counter services as part of a commitment to adapt to the different ways in which people contact the police, to meet the changing needs of the diverse communities they serve and to make necessary savings.
The consultation is focused on hearing views about the proposed reduction in the number of front counters from 16 to 11, which would save approximately £1.4m.
Since March 2020, TVP has operated with just five of its 16 front counter sites open. Seven re-opened in October 2020.
Assistant chief constable Ben Snuggs said: “The way in which our communities contact and engage with us continually evolves, with this rate of change accelerating significantly during the pandemic.
“As you might expect, we have seen an increase in contact with us by phone and online. Contacting us online is proving a convenient way for people to report non-emergency crimes or incidents, Covid-19 breaches, apply for firearms licensing, tell us about something of concern or to update us on a crime report among many other functions.
“We want to ensure we continue to operate in line with these changing public expectations and do so as well as possible.”
TVP said it is committed to providing a high quality service to the public so that when people need them they can be contacted swiftly and easily, which also means a reduction in people physically entering police buildings.
Mr Snuggs said: “It is right that we continue to adapt our digital, online and phone response accordingly.
“It is important to emphasise that this proposal does not affect police officer numbers, nor the number of police bases we have, and so the public will not experience any difference in police visibility in our communities.
“We are also offering support to our staff who are affected by this proposal and have kept them up to date with the proposed changes. We are hoping to keep any staff changes to a minimum to reduce the impact on our workforce.”
“It is vitally important we hear your views on this proposal as it will help us make a well informed decision. Please take part and tell us what you think through this consultation.”
Under the plans, the force will retain 11 of its front counters at Milton Keynes, Oxford, Reading, Slough, Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Abingdon, Banbury, Newbury, Loddon Valley and Maidenhead. The hours of their opening are also being reviewed to ensure consistency across the force.
Amersham, Bicester, Bracknell, HQ South in Kidlington, and Witney will close if the proposal is approved. TVP has 79 police bases force-wide, which are not affected, nor being consulted upon.
The consultation, which is hosted on the digital platform Snap, will run until January 31.
If you would prefer to obtain a paper copy of the consultation please call 01865 542895 to leave your address for a copy of the consultation to be sent to you.