Friday, 1 July 2011

Police Authority probes public on planned changes

Police Authority Chair,
County Councillor Malcolm Doherty
(Updated 1635, 1/7/11): Lancashire Police Authority, Lancashire Constabulary and police unions are making a determined effort to secure people's views on the proposed closures of police front counter services and stations in the region.

The public consultation starts today (1st July) for 12 weeks and, in an effort to encourage comments, they're urging people to leave their thoughts and ideas on the Lancashire Options On Policing website: www.getintheloop.co.uk

"Some people may be put off including messages on an official police site," explains Sarah Steele, the Community Engagement Administration Officer for the Authority, "so this is an alternative."

UNISON is concerned about both job cuts and fears that closing police stations would alienate community members.

"The review has suggested closing 21 ‘front counters’ and several police stations on the basis that the numbers of people actually using them are very low," outlines County Councillor Malcolm Doherty, who is Police Authority Chair.

"Most importantly, we are absolutely not moving out of communities, or becoming more remote from people, if anything it’s the opposite.  We want to explore alternative options with people so that we can create a police estate that is fit for the future – a future that includes increasing usage of mobile technology (keeping officers out on the beat for longer) and shared premises with other organisations for greater visibility.

"Equally, even without the reductions in funding, we would be looking closely at all the police premises, to ensure that they remain viable and necessary," he continues. "We totally understand that people place great importance on their local police station, but do they actually need or use it?

"We believe that residents would prefer us to invest our resources in people rather than property, to help us maintain the level of service provided.  Before we make any decisions though we need to know what you think."

There is a host of information on the Authority’s Website (http://www.lancspa.gov.uk/moneymatters/) telling taxpayers what is proposed for which area.

"We know that one size doesn’t fit all," acknowledged Councillor Doherty, "but we do believe that together we can develop solutions that are effective, affordable and practical."

UNISON’s Lancashire Police Branch takes a different view to the cuts and is urging members of the public to send a clear message to this government that cuts to policing and other public services that impact on the policing of our communities are unnecessary, uncalled for and will cause lasting damage.

“These police stations are staffed by members of police staff," notes Branch Secretary and UNISON’s newly elected Vice President Maureen Le Marinel, "who perform a very important and profession role and are a vital face to face link with the communities of Lancashire.

"If these stations are to close and this link is lost some of our most vulnerable people will feel isolated and lost. It also means that given the closure of stations there is a significant possibility that jobs will be lost.

"Whilst UNISON fully understands that the Constabulary needs to find savings due to the Condem Government imposed cuts this should not be at the risk to Public Safety."

• To comment, email with your views via LPA.Information@lancashire.gov.uk; Tweet via @LancsPA; FaceBook - www.Facebook.com/LancsLOOP or post your views via the web site at www.getintheloop.co.uk

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