CLEVELAND Police is to reduce the opening hours at Hartlepool Police Station, it has been confirmed.
The Force will be making “cost-effective changes” to the opening hours of three of the four district offices to match public demand for its services, say officials with them no longer opening 24 hours a day.
It comes after the force carried out a three-month footfall review of the four district police offices to identify whether the opening hours provided “matched the communities’ requirements”.
The outcome of the review revealed only one or two visits were made to police offices in Kirkleatham, Stockton and Hartlepool, in Avenue Road, between 10pm and 8am each day, with around five made to Middlesbrough office - these were chiefly to access the centralised custody suit.
The figures for daytime visits were significantly higher.
Therefore, senior officers say that disparity has led to the decision to operate the three offices of Kirkleatham, Stockton and Hartlepool daily between 8am and 10pm, with the provision of video contact facilities after 10pm. The custody section of Hartlepool’s station will continue to operate overnight.
Middlesbrough will remain a 24-hour face-to-face service for anyone wishing to attend a police office in person, as well as continuing the current access for custody purposes.
The proposals have been presented to the Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, who has supported the plans.
Mr Coppinger said: “As part of a review of the police estate, these proposals have been made, which I have scrutinised and fully support.
“Times are changing - most people now prefer to contact the police by phone and very rarely will they walk to a police office, therefore we need to provide a better front desk service that matches public demand.
“My role is to ensure that the Force provides the best possible service in the most efficient way and these plans link to my priority of working for better industrial and community relations.”
Iain Spittal, deputy chief constable, said: “Operational Policing will continue from each of the four stations without any changes and members of the public can attend at any time to meet with a police officer by appointment. But we need to take account of the way the public expect to engage with us.
“With advances in technology and particularly the increase in the use of social media by the public, we need to ensure that the way we communicate with our communities is the most effective possible.
“The three locations, where our opening hours reduce, will be provided with up to date video technology that links the small number of out of hour callers to our staff, who will, if necessary, arrange for an officer to meet the caller.
“We have increased our use of social media over the last year with most neighbourhoods now having their own Facebook and Twitter sites to keep the community abreast of what is happening in their area.
“And we hope to build on these relationships we are establishing through the use of technology, whilst always ensuring we are not compromising on the quality of the service we provide.”
Officials say as part of the review, a number of other police forces were visited to compare working practices and they found the vast majority of forces, including Durham Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police do not operate 24/7 staffed front desks or they limit 24/7 to one police office within the force.
Video telephones will also be installed at the entrances to Hartlepool, Stockton and Kirkleatham Police Stations for use when the front desks are not staffed, which will link directly to Middlesbrough’s front desk.