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HONITON: Consultation process will be adjusted, says Devon and Cornwall police commissoner
Tuesday, 02 December 2014
DEVON and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner has apologised for the force’s failure to consult fully with local councils before pressing ahead with the closure of Honiton’s station enquiry desk.
Speaking at a district council meeting in Sidmouth recently, PCC Tony Hogg said he accepted the criticism and had already taken steps to change the way the force consults with local authorities.
Front desks were slashed across the county earlier this year and Honiton’s was one of a number that were closed in order to make savings of around £800,000.
Town councillors, who were not consulted on the proposals, have previously spoken of their disappointment with the process.
The plans were put to Devon County Council but not to the town or parish authorities in Honiton and the surrounding area.
Speaking at the meeting, the Mayor of Honiton Councillor Peter Halse, reminded Mr Hogg of the need to engage with representatives at the lowest tier of local government.
He said: “This has been quite a sore point – not because of your having to do it, which I understand, but in the way it was carried out.
“The town council was not consulted in any way before it was announced [the station] would close.
“That is not a criticism of our officers. We have good cooperation from our local officers but it does give us a problem.
“If you have to make cuts, do warn the local authorities involved so that they, as the leaders of the community, can at least comment to you and also comment to their constituents because that is how democracy works.”
Responding to the comments, Mr Hogg said: “We adopted what we believed was the right consultation method in putting this out to the county council.
“We have been criticised for that and we fully accept that, and we have adjusted our consultation process.
“We have different levels of tiers across Devon and Cornwall and we did not think it was our business to consult down to town and parish councils.
“We thought that belonged to Devon County Council.
“If we were wrong we are very sorry about that, but the council must bear some load on that as well.”
A recent review into the ways in which members of the public contact the police showed that the number of physical visits to the station is in decline, with more people choosing to make contact by phone and online communication.
Devon and Cornwall Police says there can be as few as five or six visitors an hour, even at peak times at the busiest stations.
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