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HONITON:Seniors speak out against police station proposals

Thursday, 03 July 2014

Honiton’s senior residents have spoken out against proposals to close the town’s police station enquiry desk and have called for the force to reconsider its decision. Following a recent branch meeting, members of Honiton Senior Voice have expressed their concern at the plans, announced last month, which could see the station’s front desk closed permanently. The proposed changes, which are subject to a full consultation lasting until July, are part of a forcewide review of the way officers engage with the public, and are expected to save £760,000 a year. But senior residents have rejected the plans, claiming that public confidence in the police could be “undermined” with fewer officers on the street. Honiton Senior Voice chairman Vic Bowsher MBE told Pulman’s View: “We understand the funding pressures on the police service as a result of the banking crisis but public confidence in the police service is very important and must not be undermined. “We are asking for this proposal to be called in and reconsidered and are discussing it with our other branches in East Devon.” The enquiry desk at Honiton is one of 11 proposed closures across Devon and Cornwall, and the plans are set to leave only 10 stations where members of the public can walk in and report crime. 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. And the force says there can be as few as five or six visitors an hour, even at peak times at the busiest stations. But Tony Simpson, branch spokesman for Honiton Senior Voice, insisted that the potential loss of face-to-face contact was a real concern for older residents. He said: “There has been a significant police presence in Honiton for more than 150 years. “In fact, a picture from that era shows 32 uniformed officers serving the borough. How many officers do we have today? “In all this time it has been possible for local people to have face-to-face contact with police officers at Honiton police station and we are very concerned this might be ended in favour of technical contact. “We note that up to six visitors an hour still use the front desk, especially older people who are not comfortable using remote services. This is not an insignificant number and their concerns must be heard.” Honiton Senior Voice will be holding a public meeting with Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner on October 13th in the Methodist Hall, where local people will have the opportunity to raise this and other local policing issues.

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