Currently there are 16 helpdesks which have varying opening hours over five to seven days a week but many are seldom used.
With more and more people now choosing to contact the police in different ways, the constabulary is working to ensure the service it provides meets the changing needs of the public.
Under the new proposals a helpdesk service would be provided at police stations in Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes and Macclesfield.
These helpdesks would be open to the public between 8am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday. In addition a virtual video link to a helpdesk officer will be available within the same opening hours at Northwich Police Station.
Assistant Chief Constable Bill Dutton said: “Firstly I would like to reassure the public that these proposals will not reduce the level of service or the current police presence in Cheshire. Our operational teams and where we deploy our police officers and police community support officers from are unaffected
“Since helpdesks were introduced in 2004 the landscape has changed significantly. A large proportion of the population have mobile phones and access to online services meaning the need for face-to-face contact is reducing.
"We have noticed that more people than ever are now choosing to report crime and interact with police online or via a mobile device, and as a police service we have to adapt to these changes in our society.
"It is important to reiterate that we are not proposing to close any police stations, and although some helpdesks would close under these proposals, these will be substituted by regular Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) surgeries.
"The savings we make will be reinvested into our force contact centre, helping improve our response times in answering 999 and 101 calls, which is a key priority for the Constabulary."
"This investment will also support our work in dealing with online enquiries, which we are seeing more and more of with the advancement of technology."
"However it is really important we hear from our communities about these proposed changes and I want to encourage people to feedback to us during the consultation process."
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: "In my Police and Crime Plan I talk about delivering a modern police service, and that includes changing the way the Constabulary works so that it reflects the ways that the public are contacting the police.
"I want people to have confidence in our police service so it’s vital that everyone has their say on these proposals. More people are interacting with the police online but I want to make it clear that the Constabulary’s visible presence will increase.
"The Chief Constable and I are steadfast in our commitment to increasing the police presence across Cheshire by taking officer numbers to their highest level in modern times – with a total of 2,345."
To have your say on the proposals please click on the link below:
The consultation is open from 14 February until 27 March 2022.
Anyone wanting report a crime, incident or looking to seek advice from the police can do so by visiting www.cheshire.police.uk or by calling 101. In the case of an emergency or threat to life, always dial 999.
Q. Why are you closing the helpdesk?
Since the introduction of helpdesks in 2004, the landscape has changed significantly in terms of the availability of public contact options and public choice. With a significant proportion of the population having mobile telephones and access to online services, the need and desire for face-to-face contact is reducing. There is also an increased digital demand. Over the past 12-18 months, the number of digital channels has increased that include the following public contact options: single online home (SOH); public contact mailbox and more recently direct messaging and social media engagement. Many of the helpdesks are under-used and do not meet the changing needs of the public. Through the proposed change, the Constabulary has an opportunity to change the public contact offer to meet the changing needs of the public. Resources can be reinvested in areas such as Public Non-Emergency (101 calls and digital), which will improve the experience for the public.
Q. Is this a cost cutting exercise?
Through the proposed change, the Constabulary has an opportunity to change the public contact offer to meet the changing needs of the public. Resources can be reinvested in areas such as Public Non-Emergency (101 calls and digital), which will improve the experience for the public.
Q. Are you closing the police station as well?
No, we are not proposing to close stations. Although some help desks will go, this will be supplemented by 122 PCSO surgeries across numerous locations within the community.
Q. How can I report an incident now if I want to report in person?
For the public who choose to use the helpdesk for reporting and advice purposes there are other means of doing this – via telephone or digital 101 services. Helpdesk provision will remain in the following police stations: Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, and Macclesfield. In addition incident reporting and advice will be available through a virtual helpdesk service at Northwich Police Station. For those who we direct to our helpdesks e.g., for bail signing, sex-offender registration, vehicle seizures the proposals result in a small reduction of locations from 8 to 5 (as these services are not available across all the current helpdesks). For those directed to us to use our paid services, and immigration signing, there is no change, and these services will continue at Blacon, Crewe and Warrington.
Q. I don’t have a mobile phone/laptop, how can I access helpdesk services?
For the public who choose to use the helpdesk for reporting and advice purposes there are other means of doing this – via telephone or digital 101 services. In addition, helpdesk provision will remain in the following police stations: Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes and Macclesfield, along with virtual reporting at Northwich.
Q. Why have you chosen to keep helpdesks at Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, and Macclesfield?
There is a significant difference in public demand between the current helpdesks, with circa. 80% of demanding sitting in core locations. Blacon, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, and Macclesfield have been chosen to ensure that each local authority within Cheshire has at least one helpdesk function and Macclesfield was chosen to address a geographical gap in the east of the county.
Q. If following consultation, the proposal is not agreed what will happen?
Once Public Consultation has been completed, findings will be reviewed, and all concerns considered by the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner with any amendments to proposals announced.
Q. What if I cannot attend between the hours of 9am and 5pm?
We have based our proposed opening hours on when our demand is greatest for a face-to-face service. We do recognise that some people may not be able to attend Monday to Friday and hence we have included a Saturday service, despite demand being lower at the weekend.