21 May 2008

 

Exclusive - Caernarfon Online - First for news again!

Caernarfon Police Station cut backs

 

Caernarfon Online have been contacted by a source who is close to our reporting team and has told us extraordinary news about the proposals to severely cut man hours at the counter level in Caernarfon. This will mean that people will not be able to call in at the Maesincla Headquarters out of hours and will have to use the phone outside the building to call Colwyn Bay instead.

A few years ago Caernarfon lost its town centre police station at Castle Ditch and promises were made that it would be service as usual at Maesincla, until, that is  now!

The following news item has been reproduced word by word from our very reliable source ( we have omitted one or two lines as to protect our source and not to incriminate anyone.

 

This (if  the proposal goes ahead) is devastating news for Caernarfon. Here is what we were told.

 

"In 2007 front counter staff in Holyhead Caernarfon and Bangor were reduced from 3 at each station to 2 as part of a cost saving exercise, a loss in total of 3 posts.  The result was that front counter cover was lost during periods of leave which means that police stations are closed for periods of 8/9 days at a time.  Caernarfon police station is closed today for the 8th day because someone has been on leave."

 

"The Western Command Team have no plans of intention to address this problem, instead the plan is to reduce the hours further to 9-5.  Presently Caernarfon Police Station (when open) gives service from 0800-1900, eleven hours a day, the best service available in Gwynedd and Anglesey.  Bangor and Holyhead follow closely behind with the service offered.  9-5 cover still has no provision for opening the counter when the person is on holiday."

 

"The proposal now is to cut front counter staff posts by a further 2.5, bringing the total reduction in front counter staff  over 18 months to 5.5 thus reducing front counter cover throughout Gwynedd and Anglesey to 9-5 hours Monday to Friday, with still no provision to give any cover during holidays.  What appears not to be factored into that equation (not stated by management) is the intention to create a full time 9-5 post in Porthmadog (where historically there always was one anyway).  This is standard management procedure, scare the staff with a heavy proposal and then back off hoping they will gratefully accept the lesser evil." 

 

"9-5 opening hours at major police stations will not work and will cause chaos, not just to the public but also to police resources.  Officers are already complaining bitterly about the fact that when stations are closed they are continually called away from patrol back to the station to deal with counter matters.  I believe they are now finding ways of ‘avoiding’ this."

 

"1700-1900, Saturdays and Sundays are the times and days when ordinary working members of the public access the police stations and this plan will completely remove the availability of counter service in those crucial times.  Officers will be expected to answer front counter enquiries at weekends."

 

"This policy and these cuts are being forced from the top by (Richard) Brunstrom in his efforts to provide ‘an ever better service to the public’???  I know for a fact that despite claims that they are budget driven this is not so, it’s a policy driven by Brunstrom and doesn’t need to happen.  Chief Officers can always afford what they want to afford.  In 2007 Western Division lost 10 posts including 3 front counter staff.  At that time Western Division was half a million in the black financially and had no need to lose any staff at all.  Brunstrom took the 5K and insisted on further savings requiring 10 job losses thus punishing us twice over."

 

"Having got rid of 10 posts, within a year Western Division immediately created 4 new full time administrational posts, yet now wants to cut another 2.5 operational posts which will enormous impact upon the already hugely reduced service available to the public.

One member of front counter staff has been spoken to by the Command Team and told that these proposals will go through in three months and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them."

 

"There is a lot of police spin about ‘reduced need for front counter service’ and this is blatantly untrue.  If anything front counter service has increased.  In a force obsessed with statistical analysis you can be absolutely sure that if there was evidence of this claim it would be supported statistically."

 

"Here are a few facts about some of the hype and spin put out by the NWP."

 

"Blackberries.  NWP won an award for the implementation of technology and this put a fat bonus in a Chief Officers pocket.

Blackberries allow police officers to spend more time out on the beat and make them more available to the public hence less need for front counter services.

Nonsense.  A blackberry is a very expensive mobile phone that receives email. Email doesn’t make an officer more available, especially when officers are not allowed to use the mobile phone facility because of cost.  You can send on officer an email but he can’t phone you!!! No mention of that in the spin.  There is only one single thing that makes an officer more available and that is if the officer wants to be available.  A lazy officer will use all the tricks available (and there are many) not to be available, and a conscientious officer will be readily available (as they already are now).  There is no connection between Blackberries and counter service other than HQ spin.  Period."

 

"In this time of severe financial restraint Brunstrom is spending 3 million pounds on refurbishing the HQ at Colwyn Bay.  When a fire broke out and ACPO were forced to abandon their suite (ruined by water because they left the windows open after Brunstrom’s much publicity stunt about ‘testing security’), they moved to the Driving School where each had their own personal shower installed at great expense for what will be a temporary stay."

 

"In this time of sever financial restraint NWP has had a new Cisco phone system installed.  According to the Cisco hype these telephones will make officers more readily available and will actually replace the computer.  The system will make savings on BT charges of 100.000-00 a year.

Nonsense.  The truth is, without going into complicated detail the new phone system has actually made contacting officers worse, has made contacting your local police station more difficult, and has made it more difficult for NWP employees to contact other people within the organization.

With the quoted savings the system will pay for itself in 22 years?????

Every office in the NWP has a telephone in it costing £650 and offices with multiple phones have the equivalent of many thousands of pound worth of telephones which give a poorer service than the old system."

 

"Horses.  Insisted upon by Brunstrom despite overwhelming opposition and the knowledge they were completely unneeded and allegedly costing £300.000-00 in a time where front counter services are being cut.  It is believed that real hidden costs have now exceeded 1 million.  Worse still the horses are not ‘qualified’ crowd control horses because the NWP bought the wrong type, so they are not suitable for the very purpose argued as why they were required.   Not being proper police horses they are now nothing more than a catastrophic waste of money.  Hype and Spin from HQ about how marvelous they are is nonsense and a PR attempt to hide the truth.  Get rid of them and save enough money to keep front counters open.

The horse box to transport them has stalls for three horses but is overweight with two horses in it so can only carry one.  Efforts to lighten it have so far failed.

Many divisions have been told they can have the horses if they want them (which they don’t) but if they ask for them,
they shouldn’t be disappointed if they don’t get them.

Meanwhile the horsebox is being used for covert speed camera cover."

 

"So HQ refurb. 3 million, not needed phone system 2.2 million, horses 1 million; total 6.2 million with   Blackberries cost unspecified.  So, NWP faces a deficit of 2.2 million and needs to cut front counter public service?  What’s going on here????"

 

"PCSOs.  They have a definite role and function to perform, however they’re just window dressing with no powers and very little real policing work to do.  Unfortunately Brunstrom has employed (and still continues) them in ridiculous numbers, far in excess of what is required.  That money should have been spent on more police officers."

 

"NWP is near the top at third in the league of forces that have had greater funding allocated to them over the past ten years.  NWP should therefore have money to spare and present budgetary cuts are certainly justified.  The problem is that the force has become top heavy administration wise.  4 new administrational posts in Western last year is evidence of this and goodness knows how many new posts throughout the force after the forced loss of 120 posts.  When PCSO funding ends, that may very well be so, but he’ll (Brunstrom be gone by then (15 months) and someone else will have to pick up the pieces."

 

"Presently Caernarfon Front Counter is open 7 days a week from 0800-1900 which is absolutely the best service you can get with present staffing levels.  No provisions are in place for holidays nor is there any intention of addressing this problem.  Holyhead and Bangor offer a similar slightly different service."

 

Caernarfon Online has tried to contact North Wales Police for a view, but to date no comment has been made.

 

 

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