Last week North Wales Police Authority agreed to press ahead with a reduction in station assistants – and as a consequence to move a number of police stations to part-time opening. The full details are here.
I think this is a decision which the police will come to regret. Just as banks found that by withdrawing from our high streets they had lost contact with many customers and were seen as remote, the police need to be rooted in communities. While a uniformed presence in our streets is seen as a high priority by the public, being able to go to a familiar location to report an incident or to hand in stolen property is an important element in the relationship between communities and the police.
I have watched the battle between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno all of my life. Colwyn Bay used to be the prime shopping location and that is where my Taid worked in a carpet shop (Linney Cooper). The fact that they recently relocated completely to Llandudno tells you the story about who is winning that particular war.
The police solution on this occasion (Monday and Thursdays in Colwyn Bay and Tuesday/ Wednesday/ Friday/ Saturday in Llandudno is going to please nobody. Confusing opening times just leave people assuming that the facility is probably shut when they want to use it.
Of course we cannot ignore the financial position North Wales Police has been put in as a result of the UK government cuts. With an average of just 6 calls per day to Colwyn Bay station in March I understand why change is needed. But there are other solutions which can be put in place. The station assistant could answer 101 calls while not dealing with a member of the public or the reception facility could be a joint one with the relevant council.
The case is even stronger in the more remote parts of North Wales.
If elected I will want an urgent review jointly between the police and local council to ensure that local solutions are put in place which ensure we continue to provide an opportunity for face to face contact with the public.