Dorchester and Wareham Police Station Front Counters Closing
6:55am 19th September 2014
(Updated 11:41am 19th September 2014)
Dorchester Police Station's front desk is to close for good and so is Wareham.
The force is tightening is belt in an effort to find £9.5 million pounds worth of savings by 2015.
Cuts in central government funding are being blamed.
Weymouth and Bridport's enquiry desks are to be kept on. Assistant Chief Constable David Lewis, speaking from Dorchester police station told Wessex FM ''We need to keep open those which are busiest, like Weymouth, but Bridport services the whole of the west of the county and needs to be kept open as well. Every community should be within 12 miles of an enquiry desk. We're closing down the under utilised front counters. But officers will still patrol from this building(Dorchester) and Wareham''
Swanage and Winfrith will operate a 'sign posting' facility whereby staff help members of the public with their enquiries by directing them to relevant services.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: "This decision has been one of the most challenging faced by Dorset Police in recent memory and, needless to say, it is not one that has been taken lightly.
"I think it is really important to remember that this time last year the Force announced the proposal to close 12 out of the 15 front office counters, and as a result of my intervention and the public intervention, the year long consultation took place which leads us to closing six.
"I know that six front office counters are six too many, but we have to meet our cuts somewhere when we are losing 20% of our budget."
Recent surveys indicate that three-quarters of the public prefer to contact Dorset Police by telephone and improvements have already been made to the 101 non-emergency service.
In response to public feedback last year, the Force and PCC announced that work was underway to improve Dorset Police's online services and that joint agency initiatives would be explored to give members of the public more choice in the ways in which they can make contact and access up to date information.
The decision to sell Ferndown divisional headquarters and transferring 220 members of staff to other areas of the Force will save almost £400,000 a year in running costs - the equivalent of 10 front line officers or 17 Community Support Officers. The estimated value of the site is approximately between £6 and £8 million.
It is expected that the sale of the building and re-location of staff could take up to two years.
Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said: "Dorset Police is the fourth lowest spending Force in England and Wales and is faced with a very challenging budgetary situation, so difficult choices have had to be made.
"We know that changes of this nature are emotive, however the Force cannot continue to provide the same style of service as in the past while operating with a significantly reduced budget.
"We are committed to providing the best possible service while reflecting true demand and value for money and an organisational change programme continues to improve efficiency and identify savings across the Force.
"The initial proposal to keep just two front counters was changed following extensive consultation with the communities and partner agencies. We have listened carefully to our stakeholders and retained services where they are most needed.
"The Force continues to ensure that there is a policing footprint in every town in Dorset and that we continue to deliver local policing from these locations."
Dorset Police is already relocating some of its patrolling officers to response policing hubs in east and north Dorset. These locations have been identified to best meet the current and future operational needs of the county.
The Force estate continues to be reviewed in order to meet the financial challenges and operational demands that the police face.
PCC Underhill added: "The public have had a say in this. Police and Crime Commissioners are here to listen to the public, and we have shaped what the police have decided.
"That is the power of the people, and that is the power of the Police and Crime Commissioner."