Front desk police cuts reviewed

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POLICE chiefs have been urged to rethink plans to close front desks at stations across Wigan Borough.

Following Greater Manchester Police’s decision in July to shut seven front desks in the borough, the force has been told to extend a public consultation on the proposal with a view to reducing the number of front desks to be axed.

GMP had announced that only Wigan and Leigh’s desks would remain open from January 2012 as part of a drive to save £134m over four years.

The force also said that there are currently 55 inquiry counters and 177 dedicated staff, with the counters costing £4.8m a year to run.

Police chiefs said that desks would be replaced by an external telephone system connecting callers to the central control room. Bamfurlong, Standish, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Hindley and Atherton stations would all be affected by the front desk closures.

People effected voiced their concerns over public safety and the potential for rising in crime.

Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA) ordered the rethink after hearing concerns from members of the public. Paul Murphy, chairman of GMPA, said: “We recognise that face-to-face contact with the police is important to our communities, which is why the police authority has emphasised the need for meaningful consultation before any final decisions are made.

“Such a fundamental shift in the way the public contact their police service needs to consider the needs and views of all our communities.

“Following discussions with GMP and listening to the concerns we’ve received so far we have decided to extend the period of consultation before the decision to close some public inquiry counters is made.”

Jim Moodie, spokesman for the public sector union Unison which represents police civilian staff, said: “We’re pleased they’re going to have a look at it because it was such a drastic reduction. From a members’ perspective, hopefully they are going to keep more jobs. From the public’s perspective, it means keeping open a service we think should be kept.”