Sergeant sad over closure of Shropshire police station front counters
A police sergeant says the decision to close front counter police services across Shropshire was done with a heavy heart.
Sergeant Claire Greenaway discussed with councillors the changing ways in which people can contact police in order to cut costs at Wem Town Council.
Earlier this month front counters were closed at Bridgnorth, Church Stretton, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Shrewsbury Town, Wellington, Wem and Whitchurch police stations.
Instead, contact points were installed which connect the visitor to a police call taker 24/7 via telephone intercom.
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This was applied in order for West Mercia police to meet the demands of operating within "tighter financial constraints" following the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.
North Shropshire officer, Sergeant Greenaway, said: "Nothing disappoints me more than the loss of our front counters. It is something which is really sad and done with a heavy heart.
"The fact of the matter is they looked at the number of people using front counters and found there were very few. This is due to a combination of reasons including the reliance on emails and social media.
"Also money needs to be saved by the organisation.
"When I started in Wem, I hoped I could bring front counters back but sadly this is not the case."
Sergeant Greenway told councillors instead she indeed to hold weekly police surgeries for any residents to attend.
She said: "To me closing the front counters brings us away from the community – which we do not want. So instead I am introducing the police surgeries. However, if people want to come to any police station to speak to an officer they will never be turned away.
"For me in Wem, with an older population, the face-to-face contact is needed. I don't want to take my team away from the public so hopefully this will help."
Speaking at Thursday night's meeting, Wem councillor Connie Granger, said: "I am pleased we still have an active police station in Wem. I can see the point about not many people attending police stations now and understand most things are done by email.
"I hope the surgeries will help a lot of people who do not have the internet."
Councillor Edward Towers agreed and said the surgeries are a welcome addition.
He said: "People need to have a face to face conversation with officers sometimes to get their point across. Emails can be misunderstood. I think the surgeries should be welcomed."
West Mercia Police announced in January it would have to make further cuts of £22 million over the next five years.
The force has already cut more than 200 jobs and shut police stations as part of plans to save £20.1m by 2015.
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