Loftus Police Station
Research conducted by Cleveland Police has found that some front reception desks are so underused that they average less than one visitor per day.
The results of a three month footfall survey between August and October 2015 have led to recommendations which see both changes to opening hours and the closure of some front desks.
Reception areas at the main police stations, such as Avenue Road Hartlepool, Middlehaven in Middlesbrough, Kirkleatham in Redcar, and Thistle Green in Stockton will remain open between the hours of 8am and 8pm.
The front desks at Saltburn, Loftus, Coulby Newham, Billingham, Thornaby, Guisborough, South Bank, Eston and Redcar Town Office will close. Police officers will continue to patrol from these police stations and appointments at the stations will still be held with members of the public.
Video phones will be placed at the front of each building so that there is a direct link to the police control room for anyone who wishes to visit the station, and officers will continue to look for other venues to hold drop-in sessions. The video phones are already successfully in use in other stations across the area.
Examples from the research show that front counters in Eston, Loftus, South Bank, Guisborough and Saltburn had less than one visit per day on average for the three month period. Redcar town office had on average 2.7 visits per day and Thornaby had an average of 2.1 visits per day. These figures include receiving deliveries, people handing in lost property and the reception dealing with people arriving for appointments.
The front desk service is provided by Sopra Steria as part of the ten-year outsourcing contract with Cleveland Police. The decision to close the front desks means that around six full time posts will be put at risk.
The closures form part of a wider scale change to deliver and make savings to help the Force move forward. Sopra Steria has agreed to support Cleveland Police to make the necessary changes to the contract, which equate to around £2.9million per year and reduce the workforce by around 73 full time posts, with 20 staff transferring back to Cleveland Police.
Temporary Chief Constable Iain Spittal said: “This change does not mean that we are withdrawing from our communities, it is about a common sense approach to ensure that we provide the best and most cost effective service to local people.
“There has been a shift in favour of telephone contact and other means such as social media to communicate with officers. The public can still meet with officers face-to-face through convenient appointments, and they will continue to be accessible in other public places.
“We are becoming a much more technological society and as the needs of the public changes, we must adapt and use our budgets wisely.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “The research has been made available to me and I am confident that Cleveland Police can deliver the right service to communities with the alternative arrangements on offer.
“I do not underestimate the strength of feeling around topics such as front counters, but it’s so important that we look after the public purse and have honest conversations about services that are being funded but that are underused. “
Response from Cleveland Police and Sopra Steria
In June 2010, the Cleveland Police Authority, now OPCC, entered into a ten year Strategic Partnership Agreement with Steria, now Sopra Steria, to provide outsourced enabling services including ICT, finance, the control room and other support services. This contract ensured savings of over £70 million pounds for Cleveland Police and the public purse over a ten year period.
Since that time the policing landscape has changed dramatically. Crime is more complex, the nature of demand on policing has altered and there is less money for policing. Cleveland Police has embarked on a programme to transform the way policing services are delivered to local communities in order to protect them from risk and harm and to meet the reductions in funding.
Sopra Steria has agreed to support Cleveland Police to make the necessary changes to deliver savings to help the Force move forward. As a result of these changes, it is anticipated that Sopra Steria will need to reduce the workforce numbers by around 73 full time posts, with an additional 20 staff transferring back to Cleveland Police.
As a result Sopra Steria is required to serve notice that a number of jobs are at risk of redundancy. However it is anticipated that compulsory redundancies should be reduced by the re-opening of the voluntary redundancy scheme.
Working within a new performance framework Sopra Steria will continue with the effective delivery of policing services whilst providing savings that ensure Cleveland Police are able to deliver their core role of prevent, protect and intervene to protect communities from harm.
John Torrie, CXO UK, Sopra Steria said: “We do not underestimate the impact that these changes will have on those affected. It is important for us to recognise the changes that Cleveland Police are facing and work flexibly and in partnership with them to take account of these. We are committed to supporting the Force in continuously improving and transforming the way they work.”
Temporary Chief Constable Iain Spittal said: “A great deal of work has already taken place to ensure we deliver the best possible service in line with our budget constraints. We approached Sopra Steria to work with us to deliver reductions in the annual contract cost so that we could achieve a balanced budget in years to come.
“The unfortunate consequence of this reduction means that there will be job losses and we understand how difficult this will be for local people and their families. I know that the team at Sopra Steria will do what they can to ensure that compulsory redundancies are kept to a minimum and will provide support to those affected.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “Representatives for Cleveland Police have made recommendations to me for adjustments to the contract with Sopra Steria so that it is fit for purpose in today’s policing climate.
“I have agreed with the recommendations; however it is not a decision which I have taken lightly. When the contract was signed in 2010, there was more money and resources available for Cleveland Police. The 2013 Comprehensive Spending Review had a huge impact on the police service and the way that police forces operate. Cleveland Police has changed its structure and there has been a shift in the wants and needs of communities.
“We continue to operate in a challenging financial climate with increasing demand for policing services. As the work of the Force has changed over time, I appreciate that the requirements of the contract must change now that we are six years on.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have agreed to the recommendations and I understand the impact of the changes and the effects that they have on local people. I have been given assurances that support is being made available for those affected.”
Posted on Thursday 4th February 2016