- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
DYFED-POWYS Police must consult the public over proposal to shut front-desk services in Milford, Tenby, Fishguard, Lampeter, Welshpool, Ystradgynlais, and Ammanford. That is the view of Assembly Member Joyce Watson.
In an Assembly debate on policing this week (Wednesday, 30 May), the Labour AM for Mid and West Wales called on police chiefs to ask members of the public what they think of the plan as well as speaking to unions and staff who would be directly affected.
Questioning the Communities Minister, Carl Sargeant AM, Mrs Watson said:
“I am aware that consultation has begun with unions and the staff who would be directly affected by those closures, but does the Minister agree that Dyfed-Powys also needs to listen to the public view on this? After all, this is all about how the public communicates and engages with police in their communities.”
The force has argued that people have changed how they contact police and fewer are attending police stations.
Earlier in the Plenary session, Mrs Watson drew comparison between Welsh Government support for community safety – citing funding for 74 police community support officers in the Dyfed-Powys area – and what she described as the (UK) coalition Government’s “negligence.”
She went on to warn that the cost-cutting decision to close front desk services in mid and west Wales was “just for starters.”
“Let us be clear: the Government at Westminster is forcing our police to make tough choices. Dyfed-Powys alone has been compelled to cut costs by £13 million by 2015. The so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’ will never cover that. Therefore, it will be compelled to make difficult decisions, such as the proposal to shut front-desk services in Milford, Tenby, Fishguard, Lampeter, Welshpool, Ystradgynlais, and Ammanford—and that is just for starters,” Mrs Watson argued.
Defending the on-going service review, outgoing Dyfed-Powys Police chief constable, Ian Arundale, said:
“The Review highlights the changing way the public access our services and we need to acknowledge and adapt to this in order to provide the best possible service for our residents.
“During times of austerity we must focus on providing more convenient and efficient alternatives for people to contact us. In some cases this could mean changing facilities that are rarely being used and developing other ways for people to contact us. For instance, through mobile police stations, police surgeries and working with partner agencies.”