Six police stations to reopen in Devon and Cornwall in bid to improve trust

Devon and Cornwall's PCC Alison Hernandez says 'public confidence is so needing to be reinvigorated in policing'. Credit: PA/ Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.

Plans to reopen six police stations in Devon and Cornwall have been drawn up, as part of a wider strategy to give the public 'reassurance' in policing.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the two counties, Alison Hernandez, announced the plans alongside calls for other forces to do the same.

Hernandez said public confidence in policing needs to be "reinvigorated" and that reopening police stations will show "policing is open to the public".

But she also said convincing police forces to reopen old stations is "very hard" as chief constables sometimes believe it is a waste of resources.

The PCC for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly spoke to reporters at an Association of Police and Crime Commissioners briefing.

'Controversial with police chiefs'

Speaking about the difficulties she has already faced with the plan for six extra stations, Hernandez said her ideas were "controversial with chief constables."

She said: "Do you know how hard it is to get them reopened? Flippin' hard, it is so hard because we know the footfall will be low.

"The reasons they closed was because of low footfall. Public confidence is so needing to be reinvigorated in policing that we need to reopen and show that policing is open to the public, that policing is accessible to the public."

"We all have challenges with our 101 contact centres for trying to ring the police in a non-emergency and it's not good enough. So you've got to have other routes in which people can access policing."

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez.

"I'm determined. I've only got six I'm trying to reopen and you'd think I was trying to reopen 60," she added.

Hundreds of police stations are thought to have closed to the public across the UK in the last decade as part of cost-cutting measures.

Typically, the front desks where people could come to report crimes have been shut, even if the offices behind remained open.

But Hernandez said the pandemic has shown people can work remotely and she believes police staff, rather than officers, could front these desks if they were to reopen.

That way they could carry out other work while they "wait for that important person to turn up who desperately needs to speak to somebody face to face," she said.

"What the public need for reassurance is a reliable place that you can go to and know it's there. That's the bit that gives you the public confidence that policing is there for you," she added.

Asked if it was a mistake to close some police stations as part of cuts that took place before she was elected, Hernandez said there were some "difficult decisions" that had made.

"We're just trying to work through how we can support the uplift in police officers to be proud that they've got a station with a front desk, that they matter in that community," she added.

It is not yet clear which six police stations Hernandez wants to reopen in Devon and Cornwall.