Police Enquiry Offices in Tiverton, Penzance, Newton Abbot and Falmouth are due to be reopened by December, Alison Hernandez said.
The plans, approved by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer and the PCC at a meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Police resources board, also allow for the front desk in the popular tourist destination of Newquay, which was reopened in 2020 as a temporary measure, to remain open permanently.
These offices will be staffed by Police Enquiry Officers from Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, while the existing nine operated by the force will operate extended opening hours of 8am to 6pm on the same days.
Officers staffing the offices will be able to support the 101 contact centre too when not dealing with people person.
It is estimated that the cost of the additional openings will be about £186,000 in 2022/23, with the Commissioner and force are exploring opportunities to reopen more front desks in the following financial years.
Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “Police stations offer a place of refuge for victims and a point of contact between the police and the public they serve. They are hugely reassuring for many people, enabling crimes to be reported, victims to be protected and information to flow freely between the force and the public it serves.
“I have been very vocal about the public’s desire to see some of these front offices reopened, and the importance of establishing greater communication and understanding between the force and residents, so am really pleased to see progress on this landmark project – it shows that our police stand side by side with our communities in tackling crime.
“We know that when people have contact with police officers their confidence in the force increases. With police officer numbers set to reach record levels in Devon and Cornwall Police thanks to investment by our communities it is right that we maximise opportunities for the public to talk to officers and staff directly.
“We will not stop there. I believe the force should be more visible so am engaged in talks to work out where more enquiry offices might be opened to best serve the public.”
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer QPM said: “I warmly welcome the investment by the PCC and the public within Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as well as the uplift in police numbers provided by Government. This provides an opportunity to open some police stations across the force area. There is a clear business case and merit for these new opportunities which the force will continue to monitor in discussion with the PCC, recognising that in a digital age and across such a wide geography, there must be a blended means of public access to the force and that the force must seek to be present in the digital space alongside the physical space.
“During the pandemic we saw a significant increase in the number of people using our website and calling 101, however, there many people who continue to see the value in face to face contact within the reassuring setting of a police station. I am pleased that we will be continuing to explore further options of increasing our access through call centres and other digital mediums, as well as the exciting potential to open more front desks in the years to come.”
Chief Inspector John Shuttleworth has been tasked with rolling out the openings and ensuring consistent opening hours across the existing nine public enquiry offices.
He said: “Getting the front offices up and running will take a little work to employ some new staff, get them trained and organise for the police stations to be fitted with appropriate furniture and front counters, but by the end of the year we will start to see them fully functioning.
“The news of this joint commitment from the Police Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable in Devon and Cornwall is incredibly welcome. It’s a recognition of the force’s dedication to being a world class, sustainable policing service and the PCC’s strategy for safe, resilient and connected communities, ‘building confidence through visible and accessible policing’.
“Having had to remove front offices in the past due to spending cuts, this initiative is even more welcome as we know our communities need a wide range of options to be able to contact the police and the traditional front office is still an incredibly effective way to connect to people across the geography.”
Anyone interested in applying for the role of Police Enquiry Officer in the locations should check the Devon and Cornwall Police vacancies site for opportunities, where they will be advertised in due course: Current Vacancies - What could you do? - Police Recruitment (recruitment-dcp-dp.org).