TWO East Dorset police enquiry offices have closed indefinitely as part of a bid to save £500,000.
Both Verwood and Wimborne’s offices have shut, just months after the facilities had their opening hours drastically cut.
The news comes after reports that Christchurch could lose its police station, with no guarantee of a dedicated station to replace it, and proposals to sell the headquarters in Ferndown and transfer all 202 members of staff based there.
Superintendent Jared Parkin, of Dorset Police, said: “Dorset Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner are continuing to review counter service provision across the entire force – with no changes anticipated until at least September 2015.
“It has been identified that police enquiry offices are an under-utilised resource – this despite the commonly held perception that such services offer a reassuring presence.
“Various enquiry offices in Dorset receive just a handful of visits per day. This is, of course, an expensive use of resources.
“The proposed changes will save the force approximately £500,000, which is the equivalent of 10 front line officers or 17 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
“The reshaping of the service will ensure that staff are best placed to deal with the greatest demands and that Dorset Police makes the best use of reducing resources to deliver a service that reflects the needs of our communities.”
Supt Parkin said the force understood the “massive implications and public views” of the proposals, adding: “No final decision has been made.
“It is important to stress that closure of counter services does not equate to the closure of police stations.
“While this review is taking place it would not be appropriate to recruit new members of staff in this area to replace staff who have left. This has resulted in the suspension of two enquiry facilities, which opened for a total of three days per week.
“Verwood police station’s one day a week opening and Wimborne police station’s two days per week opening have been suspended. Members of the public are advised to attend Ferndown, Christchurch or Poole police station or alternatively contact Dorset Police on 101 with their enquiry.”
OFFICES INFREQUENTLY OPEN
WIMBORNE resident and former mayor Anthony Oliver said visits to the enquiry offices were down because “quite simply, they were so infrequently open”.
“People would say, ‘Well, it’s just pointless going along to the enquiry office, because it won’t be open,” he said.