People power sparks police station u-turn
People power in north Norfolk has encouraged police to do a u-turn over plans to axe a public inquiry office at Cromer's new station.The traditional walk-in counter had originally been left out of the designs for the new building, but a local outcry has led to a change of plan.
People power in north Norfolk has encouraged police to do a u-turn over plans to axe a public inquiry office at Cromer's new station.
The traditional walk-in counter had originally been left out of the designs for the new building, but a local outcry has led to a change of plan.
The result will be an ice-cream kiosk style window hatch where people can still talk to officers - but just three days a week.
Town councillors, who were among those protesting about the cutback, have welcomed the move, and police say it is a compromise balancing the low usage of the facility against strong public feeling, adding the window was unlikely to delay the scheduled opening of the station in the first week of December.
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Mayor Hilary Thompson said the u-turn was good news but former policewoman and town councillor Vera Woodcock declared the public counter should open seven days a week.
News that the public inquiry desk was being scrapped and the civilian clerk made redundant surprised local officers and shocked Cromer councillors in September.
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Police said the facility was little-used, with people preferring to contact them by phone, and access to the new building on Holt Road for face-to-face talks with officers would be by appointment only.
The move was branded 'shameful' at a town council meeting, which voted to write to the police voicing concerns.
This week Norfolk police confirmed it 'reviewed' its initial plans after listening to the views of the council.
The resultant new window would offer a service 'similar to the traditional walk-in counter service.'
People could walk-up to the window and be greeted by a member of staff - but only on Mondays from 8am to 3.30pm, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8am to 4pm.
There was scope to invite the caller into building if that was appropriate, said a spokesman.
Cromer mayor Hilary Thompson said the u-turn - which she put down to people power - was good news for the town.
She said: 'I think it's good that the police have actually listened. The majority of people don't have many dealings with the police, but they feel a security, a comfort, about knowing it's there. They know where there's help should they need it.'
But the mayor said there were still concerns about the location of the station - which is further out of town that the current site - and exactly when it would manned.
Town councillor Vera Woodcock said while she was pleased to hear of the police's change of mind, she was also reserving judgement over the opening hours.
The former policewoman, who worked in a number of Norfolk towns including Cromer, Hunstanton and Swaffham, said: 'I firmly believe it should be open seven days a week, at least from 9am to 6pm.
'I was in the police and we covered them from 6am until 2am the following morning. In my days we locked prisoners up in stations. These days we seem to be locking up officers.'
Head of the police in North Norfolk, Supt Dave Marshall, added the force was a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day service, with the public able to make contact through phones on the front of police stations, by public phone or website.
'Part of our drive to continually improve our service to customers involves the initiative to make planned appointments to see people at a time and place of their choosing,' he added.
People can contact the police with non-urgent inquiries using the website www.norfolk.police.uk or by calling 0845 456 4567.