HUMBERSIDE police have revealed that its station in Driffield is facing a cut in opening hours - just three weeks after assurances over its future.
The force is currently conducting a spending review and a spokeswoman told the Driffield Times and Post: “I can confirm that Driffield is one of the stations outlined as potentially having the opening hours reduced.”
The station currently opens from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and the spokeswoman added: “At the moment, the potential for reductions in opening hours are very much initial proposals and, as such, we are not being specific about the levels of reductions that mat or may not be implemented.”
It was just three weeks ago that a senior police officer quashed speculation over the future of the Driffield station after sources close to the force suggested that plans were being considered to move “indicaent response” officers from the town and base them elsewhere.
This led to fears that Driffield would not be routinely patrolled and that the police station might eventually close.
Police at the time made it crystal clear thnat there were no plans to close the police station.
However, news of a potential cut in opening hours will come as something of a bombshell to local councillors and residents.
The subject is also set to become something of a hot topic for candidates standing for election on November 15 as Humberside’s first Police and Crime Commissioner
Humberside Police has been looking at all functions and services it delivers in order to meet the significant challenge of the Comprehensive Spending Review. This has been happening in all forces.
Assistant Chief Officer, Phil Goatley said: “We well understand that some service areas such as the provision of contact points for the public are more sensitive than others. In looking at our services and functions across the board there has not been a single focus on simply cutting costs and saving money. This always has to be balanced with the capacity and capability to deliver services. We are taking a measured and proportionate approach to the changes we need to make, which in some areas can achieve an improvement in services whilst reducing costs. There is a very clear drive to protect as far as we are able frontline policing services to all communities across the Humberside Police area and inevitably this includes having to make difficult decisions. “
ACO Goatley added: “A recently completed review of public contact points includes looking at our current provision of front counter services in police stations. This has involved work to measure the public demand for these services, the results of the Police Authority’s public consultation exercise and findings from so -called “mystery shopper” audits of service quality as well as benchmarking our services with those provided in other forces.”
He said: “The review presents a range of proposals which have yet to be considered by the Chief Constable. These are centred on improving the provision of services including working on joint provision of public contact points more effectively with partners, better arrangements for visitors to our custody facilities, smarter use of pre-arranged appointments and better planning in our policing Divisions to ensure that contact points are open whenever and wherever we advertise that they are. This review is also linked to work underway to enhance the Force’s interaction with the public through the rapidly growing phenomenon of social media.”
“The review confirms that by far the most important means for the public to contact us remains the telephone and reinforces that we were right under Tim Hollis to invest significantly in improving our call handling capability”.
“Specifically on opening hours, the review includes proposals to change these in some cases strictly in line with the measured demand for service. For some stations, particularly those in rural areas without custody facilities, there are proposals for reductions in the total number of hours for which front counters would be staffed.
“However there are none which would see a reduction in hours at any of our main police stations nor any which ask the Chief Constable to consider closing a front counter in a police station currently open to the public. There is a clear message to all of our staff that if they are in the police station then it is effectively open for business to the public, whether or not the front counter itself is open.”
“The origins of this story were in speculation that Driffield and Beverley Police Stations were being targeted for closure. This is unequivocally not the case, nor have there ever been plans to leave either of these communities without their own local police station.”
The town council had before its summer break queried levels of policing in Driffield after Coun Paul Rounding explained that he had recently experienced two instances where he was left to question policing levels in the area.
It was agreed by the council that a letter should go to the force expressing the council’s concerns and requesting information as to policing levels.
Neighbourhood Inspector for Driffield Robert Cocker told the town council: I can reassure the town council that police levels in Driffield and the surrounding rural area have remained at a similar level which they have historically been over recent years.
#”The Driffield niehgbourhood policing team consists of a full time sergeant, constables and police community support officers.
“In addition to the neighbourhood team, there are officers on duty 24 hours a day to provide emergency response policing.
Insp Cocker added: “Driffield police station also acts as a base for traffic officers. Those officers do have responsibilities across the county, however they dom increase the police presence and tghe ability to respond to incidents in progress in the locality of their base.
“Despite public concerns over the reduction of police staff as a result of the comprehensive spending review, Humberside Police remain committed to front line policing.
“I assure the town council that I will work hard to ensure that Driffield continues to receive the highest standard of policing.”
POLICING levels are top of the agenda for candiates standing for election as the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner.