Sidmouth police front desk closure shock

SIDMOUTH police station’s front office will be shut in a round of savage force spending cuts.

SIDMOUTH police station’s front office will be shut in a round of savage force spending cuts.

Constabulary chiefs have vowed the Temple Street base will continue to be manned by officers, but uncertainty surrounds the future of its valued ‘public face’ of nearly two decades.

Station enquiry officer Debbie Hollamby has spent 17 years helping residents in the role. She faces redundancy or having to apply for a post elsewhere.

Shocked civic leaders this week branded the move “absolutely ridiculous” and say Sidmouth is losing a “font-line service”.

The enquiry office, open to the public from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, will close by May next year.

The announcement comes just months after the force said it was considering reducing the office’s opening hours- a measure labelled a “cop out” by town councillors in June.

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A force review revealed a significant drop in enquiry office use with 90per cent of crimes reported over the phone. The number of people attending stations with documents plummeted by more than half.

Thirty-four enquiry offices across the region, including Ottery St Mary’s, will shut. It is estimated the move will save the force �5million over four years- the equivalent of 36 police officers.

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary emphasised this week: “This review has not been about closing stations” and promised people will not be ignored in an emergency.

Bosses say they are “modernising” the way communities can contact police and changes are a direct result of feedback from a public consultation.

Sidmouth Town Council chairman Peter Sullivan was “very disappointed” by the news. He said: “We were consulted when they were talking about cutting hours, not actual closure.

“I though they were talking about retaining staff- to many this is the public face of the police in Sidmouth. It’s the face and only person a lot of people see.

“Debbie is somebody everybody knows, even outside of the police station.

“The front desk provides a valuable service in a town like ours. To close a face to face personal service, I think, is absolutely ridiculous.”

Sidmouth Sergeant Andy Turner said: “Form a personal perspective it’s extremely sad to see the loss of the front office.”