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Lib Dem councillor criticises decision to axe police front desk facility in Lichfield city centre

A Liberal Democrat councillor has criticised a decision to close the police desk in Lichfield city centre.

Cllr Paul Ray said the decision by Staffordshire Police, combined with the decision to move the HQ from Frog Lane to Eastern Avenue, would leave residents unable to access police services.

The force switched their headquarters to make way for the ill-fated Friarsgate development, although a front desk service was retained at Lichfield District Council House.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

But Cllr Ray said cuts to vital services were now going too far: “We can be thankful that knife crime is not a major problem in the Lichfield area and that we are spared many of the horrors that seem to afflict our larger cities.

“Even so, a police presence is a necessity in our community, but it seems that the Convservative government cuts in policing will deprive Lichfield residents of a vital service.

Cllr Paul Ray
Cllr Paul Ray

“The closure of the Police station on Frog Lane and the move to the police forensics HQ on Eastern Avenue has already deprived Lichfield of a city centre police presence.

“But even at the new HQ, there is currently no front desk at which the public can directly address their concerns to a police officer and there are no future plans to provide one.

“Instead, the help desk in the Lichfield District Council offices is now to be closed, and a ‘help point’ providing a remote connection to a police desk at Cannock, Burton, or Stoke will be substituted.”

Staffordshire Police said the move was part of a plan to transform how it serves communities in the digital age and would see front counters remain in place only in Stoke, Cannock and Burton as they “provide good levels of accessibility to people across the county”.

It added that footfall has fallen significantly with the majority of public contact now coming via the 101 phone service.

Chief Inspector Mark Smith, neighbourhood policing team commander for Lichfield, said: “In Lichfield city centre police share accommodation with the local authority and provide drop-in surgeries in the council building.

“Each ward area has allocated local officers and PCSOs who hold engagement meetings every month. These are advertised locally and through the new on line services, so people can have face to face meetings with their neighbourhood team for support and advice.”

But Cllr Ray said the move was “totally unacceptable”.

“While we welcome all the police initiatives to facilitate remote access, the human touch should continue as an essential part of the police’s role in the community,” he said.

“And this decision does not take into account the fact that Lichfield has a high elderly population and not all are familiar with using online technology.

“If a woman is a victim of a sexual assault, or an elderly person wishes to report a crime, for example, a help point is not going to supply the necessary emotional support provided by a human presence.

“This is one more example of the way that the Conservative government’s cuts to vital services in the regions are affecting our lives. 

“There are local elections on 2nd May and I urge residents to use their vote to tell the Conservatives exactly how they feel about decisions like this.

“It’s just another unacceptable example of the deterioration in our public services.”

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5 Comments

  1. LetsGiveItASpin

    20th March, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    What the police mean to say is , council are selling the building as part of friarsgate 2 and moving outside of the city.. so the police actually will not have a home anyways.

  2. Joanne Grange

    20th March, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Must be election time…

  3. Burntwood Bloke

    20th March, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Didn’t the council tax include a massive 12.5% policing rise recently?

  4. Kieran Alford

    22nd March, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Personally I think it’d be ideal for the Lichfield Police to relocate their central front desk into the foyer on the ground floor of the new community fire station along with a first aid service and defibrillator.

  5. AnnS

    25th March, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    Don’t be silly Kieran Alford, that sounds like too much common sense.

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