New technology has made it economically possible to reopen the police front desk in Swanage in Dorset and now there’s a move to ensure the whole community gets to know about the new service.
The office in Swanage, which reopened at the beginning of August 2023, is operational for two days a week, between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm on Mondays and Fridays, with the aim of improving face to face communication with local residents and holiday makers.
Backing the move to reopen Swanage’s police front desk (left to right) Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick, Swanage town mayor Tina Foster and MP for Dorset South Richard Drax
Show of support
The police front office in Swanage Town Hall on the High Street closed during the pandemic in 2020 but now a new trial scheme has seen it reopened along with front desks in Blandford Forum and Lyme Regis.
The new counter services officer for Swanage Helene Brown has been working in the office for the last three weeks and so the Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick, along with MP for Dorset South Richard Drax and Swanage town mayor Tina Foster dropped in to show their full support on Friday 25th August 2023.
Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick opening the door to more police face to face contact centres
Role more viable
The recent restoration of police contact points is part of the Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick’s plan to make policing more visible and connected to the local community. He said:
“I heard what people in Swanage said and I told them at the recent public meeting in the town that I would bring back the police front office. At the time I couldn’t say when, but now it’s been achieved. I know there’s also concerns about shoplifting and I’m looking at a way that shopkeepers can report crime so that the police can respond more quickly.
“The police desk was taken away for economic reasons but technology means that the person in the office can now also deal with other crimes reported online and via 101, which makes the role more viable. However the role also has to work for the local people and be a way to connect more easily with the police.”
In a change to the past, the counter services officer works full time, spending two days in Swanage and the rest of her week at other police contact centres.
While in the Swanage office, Helene is not only speaking to people face to face but is also linked into the Dorset Police computer system dealing with crimes that have been reported online and connected to the phone system so is now able to pick up 101 calls.
Dorset Police is currently recruiting to train up more people as contact officers based at Winfrith in Dorset and would welcome applications from those who would ultimately like to progress to working as a counter services officer at a police front desk like the one in Swanage.
The new face behind the police desk is Helene Brown (right) along withJoe Deeprose (left) from Dorset Police call management and communications department
Helene Browne says that meeting people is the best bit of her job and is encouraging more people to walk through her door and visit her at the police front desk
“Small step in the right direction”
MP for Dorset South Richard Drax said:
“Reopening the police front office is a small step in the right direction – I’ve campaigned to reopen police stations across the country. Shutting them, I believe, is an act of vandalism.
“The argument is that they aren’t used but the point is that they act to reassure residents and deter criminals. When they are closed, the opposite happens!
“I hope that the Swanage front desk will be open five days a week in future and that more police stations reopen giving rural communities the police cover they need.”
Richard Drax MP says he’s campaigned in parliament for reopening police stations across the country
“Make the most of what’s been delivered and build on it!”
Swanage town mayor Tina Foster added:
“This is something we’ve been asking for for a long time – it’s not a gift. Swanage Town Council is now looking forward to the town getting a much better service from the police.
“But we have to rely on the public reporting crime and locals coming into the office and using it. We don’t want it said that the front desk isn’t getting used enough and then the service being taken away.
“I’m very grateful to the members of the public who organised the recent public police meeting and now we need to make the most of what’s been delivered and build on it!”