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Let me know if you support front desk reopening plans

Last week I used this column to ask you to complete my annual survey on policing priorities. I am pleased to say that since then hundreds of Devon and Cornwall residents have taken the opportunity to have their say on a range of issues.

Let me know if you support front desk reopening plans

The Commissioner visits Honiton Police Station also to be reopened this summer

The survey lets me know what is frustrating or worrying the residents of the police force area, as well as what police are doing well which our communities would like more of.

One of the questions helps me work out if there is continued support for my programme or reopening (or in some cases opening for the first time) 18 of the police station ‘front desks’ which were closed many years ago as a cost-saving measure.

I believe closing these stations to the public altered the way our residents thought about policing. The force was, through necessity at the time, literally closing doors on the public it was supposed to be listening to and serving.

Newquay was the first I funded to reopen in 2020. In the last financial year front desks were reopened in Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Bude, Penzance, Truro and Falmouth. In the current financial year I am reopening them in Kingsbridge, Okehampton, Honiton, Ilfracombe and Looe and was pleased to open one for the first time at Devonport’s police station.

Four more front desks are due to be opened in the next two financial years and we are in the process of deciding on locations for these.

Another, in Exmouth, will be opened when the resort gets a new police station to replace the current station, custody block and court on the corner of Clarence Road and North Street is demolished and redeveloped.

My team submitted an application for planning permission for this £5m project recently, and it is really exciting to finally make progress on a rebuild that Exmouth residents, police officers, staff and volunteers all thoroughly deserve.

As owner of the estate and with about 130 properties to worry about, bringing forward a complex project like this, and finding funding for it, is never easy.

Exmouth, on the South Devon coast, is really in need of a new station though. The new build will be rebuilt to ‘excellent’ environmental standards, meaning it would be among the top 10% of buildings for efficient use of energy.

Designs put forward to planners improve public access, the welfare provisions for officers and enhances the natural environment immediately around the new building. It will be more in keeping with the current conservation area’s requirements and will be on smaller footprint than the current police station, with the remainder of the site available for redevelopment.

Exmouth is a busy and bustling resort town which has a large resident population and a considerable increase in its population in the summer months.

The policing team in East Devon do an incredible job while facing considerable challenges. They are working from buildings which have served their purpose but which are nearing the end of their useful life and are not (in my opinion) attractive.

I am delighted to be able to bring forward this proposal to give the town a policing facility that is fit for the 21st Century and which police officers, staff, volunteers and residents of the town deserve and have worked alongside local councillors and East Devon’s MP, Simon Jupp, to develop the plans.

It is vital to me that Exmouth residents and visitors have a chance to interact with police, and get advice from officers and staff, at a publicly accessible police enquiry desk. Such contact improves public confidence in policing and helps police gain vital information from the community which keeps us all safe.

There is still time to have your say on whether you support the reopening of police station front desks, and many other issues, by completing the Your Safety, Your Say survey at dcpcc.commonplace.is or by calling my office on 01392 225555.