Joint working between police and council to be rolled out across Wiltshire (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Joint working between police and council to be rolled out across Wiltshire
Home Office minister Damian Green praised the new combined offices of the council and police station in Chippenham after a visit yesterday.
Monkton Park is the first public building in Wiltshire where the police and council have been co-located as part of an efficiency drive.
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty revealed yesterday the example was to be rolled out to 20 other locations in Wiltshire, with the next being Corsham in March 2014.
This will involve only the neighbourhood policing team (NPT). Chippenham’s NPT moved to the Wiltshire Council offices in January 2012, followed in February this year by response officers and a month later by the inquiry team. The defunct Wood Lane police station is now on the market.
Damian Green, minister of state for policing and criminal justice, was given a tour of the Monkton Park building, after which he said it was a good example for others.
He said: “This is a new idea, and an extremely good idea, making police more visible and more accessible and getting the two into the habit of working together. They’ve started thinking creatively here and it’s a good step forward.”
He was invited by Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, who is strongly encouraging collaboration between public agencies. He believes it leads to more efficient use of resources and cost savings and is keen to extend it to other areas.
Police and the council deal with many of the same issues, such as safeguarding, housing, anti-social behaviour, fraud and community speedwatch.
Home Secretary Theresa May said this week that agencies needed to look at how they shared information, after a serious case review found evidence of repeated failures by the agencies responsible for the care of Daniel Pelka, who was murdered by his mother and her partner in Coventry.
Mr Macpherson said: “If you are working in the same building and having an open relationship, that has got to improve the situation between those who have responsibility for safeguarding. Communicating at a distance, they’re not going to be as efficient as working together as part of a team.”
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott, who also met with Mr Green, said: “Working together allows us to share information and work together to support and protect those who are most vulnerable in our communities.”
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: “It is more about delivering a better service than making savings.
"People come here and get one-stop shop; it makes sense not to duplicate. There will be savings in the future, which will help to protect the number of our officers. The money’s not going to get redirected; these are the savings that we need to make because of the austerity measures.”
Initially some councillors feared moving the police inquiry desk into the council offices would discourage people from reporting crimes because of a lack of privacy.
Mr Geenty said this had not been an issue and anyone had the option to ask for somewhere private. Mr Green added: “In fact I think it encourages people to go in, whereas they might not want to be seen going into a police station for whatever reason, especially in some areas if they are giving information.
"They put mobile police vans in supermarket car parks to reach people; this is the equivalent of that.”
The partnership will involve full integration of IT services. Mr Green said: “Police IT does need improving, there’s no doubt about that. That is the biggest thing I am driving as policing minister.”
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