Bedfordshire Police has announced plans to change its enquiry office opening times.
The plan, which follows weeks of consultation, contains a mix of good and bad news for residents and staff as the force does its best to meet public expectations with the limited budgets it has.
The good news is that as a direct result of feedback from communities and the staff dedicated to serving them, the force has decided to keep Dunstable Police Station enquiry office open.
From the beginning of February Dunstable, and the enquiry office at Greyfriars, Bedford, will open between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday – although it is acknowledged that’s not as long as the current 7am to 10pm seven day a week arrangements.
However, the reception at Kempston HQ will be scrapped and replaced with a fully functioning and longer opening enquiry office, which will operate between 8am and 8pm seven days a week and mirror arrangements at Luton Police Station.
Budget restraints leave the force with no option but to close Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis enquiry offices, although it is important to understand that the police stations themselves remain completely operational.
Although seven posts have been cut no-one will be made compulsorily redundant, thanks to voluntary redundancy or redeployment opportunities within the force, which is keen to retain the skills of the staff it has.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, said: “I am very pleased we will be able to keep the Dunstable enquiry office open, and this is as a direct result of consultations with the public and our own people.
“We have done a considerable amount of research and are essentially keeping open those enquiry offices where there is statistically the most demand for face to face contact.”
Assistant Chief Constable, Mark Collins, added: “Visitor numbers to our enquiry offices have fallen over the years as people take advantage of new technologies to contact police.
“However, there are some things that cannot be done via computer or mobile telephone and we have done our best to come up with a solution which gives the best possible service within the budget constraints we have.
“I would emphasise that even though some enquiry offices have been closed the police stations are still fully operational and residents can make an appointment to see officers there, or at their own homes.”
“Although the funding picture looks bleak we will continue to press central Government for a fairer funding settlement and support the Police and Crime Commissioner’s petition. “
The public can sign a the Police and Crime Commissioners petition calling for more funding for Bedfordshire Police at www.bedspcc.org or www.bedfordshire.police.uk.