Police front desks in Devon and Cornwall are to close

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The majority of front desks at police stations across Devon and Cornwall are to be closed to save money.

Thirty four police stations will be affected, including Brixham, Ilfracombe, St Ives and Looe, and 60 civilian jobs will be lost.

The force said most members of the public now contact the police via phone or internet.

It said front desks would be replaced with "effective" wall phones and an appointment system.

The desks at 23 police stations in Devon and Cornwall will remain in operation, with extended opening hours at evenings and weekends.

It means there should still be a station with a functioning front desk within 15 miles (24.1km) of every home, the force said.

'On the streets'

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton denied the closures meant the police would be more remote.

He said: "We are continuing to have a presence in those communities.

"We're not getting rid of local beat teams, we are not removing Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)."

He said in a "tough economic climate" the force had to focus on keeping its resources "out on the streets".

Councillor Ron Tully, chairman of St Ives Town Council's environment committee, said: "It's part of a continuous story of how medium and small towns are losing essential services.

Start Quote

There is some merit in making savings this way”

End Quote Karen Williams Unison

"The police are the heart of the community.

"It's a question of reassurance that people can pop in there and speak to someone who knows the area.

"We've now lost that."

The news follows Friday's announcement that police officers in the two counties will be forced to retire after 30 years of service, a move which could affect about 500 people.

The force has said it needs to make savings of £47m over four years.

Karen Williams, regional organiser of the union Unison, said the changes were the "least worst" option.

She said: "New technology and other means of contacting the police mean that there is a sense of some merit in making savings in this way."

She said the union was working to reduce compulsory redundancies, which could have a "devastating effect."

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