The front office for members of the public visiting Cowes police station on the Isle of Wight has been temporarily closed.
Public opening hours were reviewed when the full-time Station enquiry officer (SEO) at Cowes, Dave Brooks, had his request for voluntary redundancy approved in December 2010. His final day at work was Thursday, March 31, 2011. He was due to retire in July 2011.
The rest of Cowes police station is not affected and will continue as the base for the town’s local Safer Neighbourhoods team, plus the Isle of Wight police Operations team, which is responsible for emergency planning, co-ordinating multi agency responses to major incidents, and policing for the island’s summer events, including the Isle of Wight Festival, Cowes Week and the Bestival.
A telephone remains on the front wall of Cowes police station in Birmingham Road where members of the public can call the police control room and force enquiry centre.
The Cowes Safer Neighbourhoods team can be contacted by phoning 101 or 0845 045 45 45, or sending an e-mail to email@example.com
Mini-com users can call 01962 875000. Information can be given anonymously by phoning the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
The front offices at Newport, Ryde and Shanklin police stations on the Isle of Wight remain open to the public.
Isle of Wight police commander Superintendent Norman Mellors said: “The whole police force and public sector is facing unprecedented challenges to provide high-quality services while reducing budgets by millions of pounds.
“No one in the police relishes the prospect of closing a front office to the public, but we must prioritise our services and spending in the areas where there are the greatest demands and risks.
“The decision to temporarily close the Cowes front office to the public will be reviewed again later this year after Hampshire Constabulary completes its review of the entire police estate. We’ll also be paying particular attention to the potential public demand for front counter services during the town’s busiest policing periods, especially the Cowes Week sailing regatta.
“In the meantime, it’s important the dedicated local Cowes Safer Neighbourhoods team remains based in the town. Their hard work with the community has proved highly effective in reducing crime in recent years. Only this month, officers in Cowes acted swiftly on information from the public to arrest a suspect for a series of thefts from cars in the town. This suspect is due to go on trial at the island’s crown court later this year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave Brooks for his many years of dedicated and valuable service to the force, and wish him all the best for the future. Dave was a popular and enthusiastic member of staff.”
Hampshire Constabulary’s estates review
Superintendent Dave Hardcastle, force change manager, said: “There is an ongoing review taking place of all the estate Hampshire Police Authority currently owns or leases, as well as a review of the front counter services that the force currently offers, to reflect the way they are being operated by the force and used by the public.
“The force is also exploring options for technical solutions that facilitate easier access to the most popular services, such as online crime reporting.
“As part of the estate review, we are looking to reduce the number of buildings the force currently occupies, but no formal decisions have been made at this time. It is anticipated that the Police Authority will be in a position to make decisions in June 2011 based on the outcome of the other reviews happening across the force.”
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, chair of Hampshire Police Authority, said: “If, as a result of the estates review, decisions are made to close buildings currently occupied by Hampshire Constabulary, we are committed to maintaining and improving the level of service from local policing teams to the community.
“The changes will take place over a number of years, and no police station will close until an alternative location within the same community has been found. The force is exploring the option of co-locating suitable policing services in a number of different, community-based locations other than police stations.”