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Future of police desk 'hanging in balance'

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

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THE future of the Gillingham Police Station enquiry desk is hanging in the balance following the completion of a public consultation.

In a letter to Gillingham Town Council, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said that the force was faced with having to meet "a very challenging budgetary situation" and was now revisiting the option of closing enquiry desks at certain stations across the county.

Mr Underhill has proposed that Gillingham's enquiry desk be closed for a trial period of six months.

He said: "The 2012/13 community survey showed that 77 per cent of the public prefer to contact the force by phone, with 75 per cent contacting the force through the non-emergency number. Demand combined with the running costs means a necessary change in how we will continue to deliver a future service.

"At this time we would like to reassure you that no final decisions have been made.

"Please be assured this will be done in line with providing the best possible service to the public, while reflecting true demand and value for money."

Mr Underhill also said that the potential closure of front desks did not mean the station itself would be closed.

He said: "The force continues to ensure that there is a policing footprint in every town in Dorset.

"Alternative provisions will be made available. This includes the telephone facility which will continue to be available at all stations for direct contact with the Force Command Centre.

"Further promotion of the non-emergency contact number and enhanced contact will be established via the Dorset Police website."

Speaking at the latest full town council meeting deputy mayor David Milsted queried whether it was possible for Gillingham Direct – the town council's front of house service – to deal with some enquiries on behalf of the police.

Town clerk Sylvia Dobie said the police reception area could be used by Gillingham Direct which would free up space in the Town Hall to be used as office space.

Mr Underhill was due to visit Gillingham Town Hall yesterday to answer questions.

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