Update on the future of police station front offices on the Isle of Wight

Posted by Admin on Sunday, 19th February 2012, 12:31

Update on the future of police station front offices on the Isle of Wight

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I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate what will be happening to public opening hours at police stations in 2012. We have been reviewing the location and opening times of our front offices across the Isle of Wight and Hampshire in order to reflect the way they are being used by members of the public. In the current financial climate, private businesses and public sector organisations all have to make savings; and policing is no exception. By closing the front offices where demand is low, the force can make some of the savings it has to make as a result of a reduced budget.

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Between January and October 2011, Hampshire Constabulary carried out an in-depth review of how the public use front offices in our police stations across the island and Hampshire. This review included public consultation work, examining the numbers of people visiting our front offices and demand for services, assessing the risks and threats associated with closures or reductions in opening hours, and exploring the appetite for alternative ways for people to contact us through new on-line and telephone technology.

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The Isle of Wight will keep two front offices

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As announced on October 18, 2011, the force took decisions to close the front offices where public demand is lowest from April 2012. There will be one front office open to the public in each of Hampshire Constabulary’s policing Districts. However, during consultation, a successful case was made for the Isle of Wight to keep two of its three public front offices at police stations where demand is higher, and where the island’s geography strongly supports an additional site.

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Newport and Ryde will stay open

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Newport front office on the High Street near Coppins Bridge, and Ryde front office on Station Street, will both remain open to the public. Opening hours from the start of April 2012 will be:

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Newport:

9am – 6pm (Mondays – Saturdays)

9.30am – 6pm (Sundays)

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Ryde:

9am – 6pm (Mondays – Saturdays)

9.30am – 6pm (Sundays)

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Shanklin shuts earlier in February, but the building remains as a police station.

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Shanklin front office will now be closing to the public earlier than the original planned date at the start of April 2012. The last day that Shanklin front office will be open is Thursday, February 2, 2012. The office will remain closed after this date because of changes to where our Station Enquiry Officers (SEOs) are based.

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However, the building on Landguard Road will be retained by Hampshire Constabulary as a police station for our Targeted Patrol teams (TPT), which respond to 999 calls; the East Wight, Sandown and Shanklin Safer Neighbourhoods teams (SNTs), and the Isle of Wight Roads Policing Unit (RPU).

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Whilst we endeavour to keep front offices that are earmarked for closure open for as long as possible, some locations, including Shanklin, are now closing to the public sooner than April 2012 at short notice because of staff changes as a result of the review process.

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Although the front office at Shanklin will close prematurely, there is a yellow telephone at the public entrance on Landguard Road to enable personal callers to speak with either officers on duty in the station, or our force enquiry centre operators, who will be able to answer your query and get help to you quickly in an emergency.

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Station Enquiry Officers (SEOs)

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It is important to remember the effect of these closures on our hard-working Station Enquiry Officers (SEOs) who provide an excellent service to the public in front offices. These civilian members of staff are dedicated to their stations and communities with an immense level of local knowledge and expertise, which assists the police force in keeping crime low, catching criminals, and reassuring residents and visitors.
There will be fewer posts for Station Enquiry Officers and a significant proportion of this reduction will be achieved through voluntary redundancies and staff moving on to other roles within or outside the force; however, there will still be a number of staff facing redundancy. The review of front offices was subject to staff consultation until September 28, 2011. We are continuing to hold discussions with our Station Enquiry Officers (SEOs) and give them support at this difficult and uncertain time before changes are completed by April 2012.

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Ryde or Shanklin as the second site

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There was a debate during consultation over whether Ryde or Shanklin should provide the second front office service on the Isle of Wight. Shanklin was suggested as the additional site initially, but consultation resulted in a decision that supported Ryde for several reasons:

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● Ryde is the largest town on the island
● Ryde is one of the main gateways to the island
● The front office at Ryde currently deals with more crime
● Ryde includes areas of relative deprivation
● Closure of Ryde would have a more significant impact on demand at Newport

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Shanklin’s temporary closure in September 2010 was not a factor

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Concerns were raised in 2010 about the temporary closure of Shanklin police station’s public front office, and we would like to reassure people that this was a completely separate decision prompted by staff sickness at that time. The temporary closure in September 2010 did not influence the decision to shut the Shanklin front office permanently this year.

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More ways to contact the police

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We are developing more ways of contacting the force and accessing police services. The consultation with the public on how they wish to interact with us has shown a clear shift towards online self-service options as well as interaction with officers in the community. This is where we will focus our resources in the future.

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Each area of the Isle of Wight already has its own Safer Neighbourhoods team, which concentrates on long-term policing priorities set in co-operation with members of the public who represent the community through local action groups we have helped to create. More details are online at www.hampshire.police.uk

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For most traditional front office services not provided by local Safer Neighbourhoods teams, the public can still phone 101 to report a crime or get an update, access help and advice, leave a message, or schedule a meeting with an officer in the convenience of their own home. Officers will continue to keep victims of crime updated on the progress of investigations.

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People will also be able to report crime online in the near future and track the progress of enquiries without having to contact the investigating officer. The new CrimeReports website www.crimereports.co.ukalready allows residents to find out more information about local policing where they live, including meetings and beat surgeries with their local officers.

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Moving, not leaving

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As announced on June 23, 2011, some of the buildings we use on the island will be sold after decisions taken by Hampshire Police Authority members, who considered a separate review of the police estate.

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Newport, Ryde and Shanklin police stations are not for sale.

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Buildings for sale include three of the island’s six police stations. Those three are Cowes, Yarmouth and Ventnor police stations, which do not have front offices open to the public. These buildings are not fit for modern policing and are not cost efficient. However, we will not be leaving these communities.

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The changes won’t happen overnight. Instead, they will take place over a number of years. No police station will relocate until an alternative base for the local Safer Neighbourhoods team within the community has been found.

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In the meantime, yellow telephones remain on the front walls of Cowes (junction of Birmingham Road and Mill Hill Road), Yarmouth (High Street) and Ventnor (Hambrough Road) police stations where members of the public can call to speak with either officers on duty, or our force enquiry centre operators, who will be able to answer your query and get help to you quickly in an emergency.

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We are exploring opportunities to move to locations that are accessible to the public – such as council offices, libraries or local supermarkets. Just like now, neighbourhood officers will walk their beats and police their communities, and will be available for discussions and advice during beat surgeries and community meetings.

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Police are never complacent in wanting to maintain an active presence in every neighbourhood. Officers have access to mobile data on smart phones and laptops. These allow officers to complete more work on visible patrols in the community, instead of having to return to computers at police stations.

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This time of change for Hampshire Constabulary presents a significant opportunity for the force to really focus on what is important to residents, by taking a look at what we do and why we do it. We believe that we will emerge from this period of transition as a stronger force, focused on what really matters to the public.

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Please do not hesitate to contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods teams with any queries you have about the future of our police stations, front offices or any of the changes facing Hampshire Constabulary between now and 2015.

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Your involvement and support is an essential element in reinforcing a strong sense of community, which is a vital foundation in keeping crime low and reducing people’s fears of crime.

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Senior officers and your local Safer Neighbourhoods teams will continue to keep you updated with further announcements when they are made.

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For more information about policing in your local area, please phone 101 (Mini-com users can phone 01962 875000) or visit any of the following websites and type in your postcode.

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www.hampshire.police.uk

www.police.uk

www.crimereports.co.uk/

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Yours faithfully

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Neil Sherrington
Superintendent
Isle of Wight District police commander

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