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Police commissioner: ‘Prioritise spending on bobbies not bricks’

comissionerTHE POLICE landscape of Dyfed-Powys is to change, with leading figures planning a force more in tune with modern public needs. The change comes in the form of a long-term estates strategy agreed by Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon and Chief Constable Simon Prince. It follows a review of all properties used by the police around Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. The strategy aims to balance the need for community policing and other force operations with the cost of using and maintaining buildings with public money. Mr Salmon, who owns the police estate as part of his work, said: “I want to prioritise our spending on bobbies not bricks. “The estates strategy will help ensure police officers can be seen and contacted in line with the public’s modern needs and wishes. “It will ensure that our communities receive an effective, efficient and professional service. “With some of our many buildings being expensive to run or under-used, the strategy will mean a wise use of public money. “Front line services will be prioritised with innovation in the use of buildings and technology. We’re looking at solutions such as sharing spaces with partner agencies and organisations. “Much of our existing property will be retained but the services operated from some will relocate to nearby premises in the same community. “For some locations we seek alternative arrangements after which the existing premises will close. New, well-considered arrangements will be put in place and publicised before any relocation or closure occurs. “The whole process will take up to three years; individual plans will be made for each area and will be carefully thought through with the needs of the community and the region taken into account. “I understand that some people may be concerned at the prospect of change but I assure them that they can start looking forward to improved services. “In the meantime, we’ve created 30 new police officer posts in response to what the public have consistently told me in the 18 months since my election – they want to see officers on the streets. After all, it’s bobbies that catch criminals – not bricks.” Mr Prince said: “My priority is to ensure that the appropriate number of police officers and PCSOs are working within our communities. “To achieve this, we’re thinking differently – with efficiency in mind – as to how we best use our police buildings. “Our new approach is very much about ‘business as usual’, with officers sharing space with partner agencies, using mobile police stations and promoting local visibility and engagement opportunities.” The force uses around 70 sites with total annual running costs of around £2.9m and a 10-year maintenance requirement of around £10.3m. Force priorities have evolved in recent years, with a greater emphasis now on community policing. Central funding is down from around £60.5m in 2011-12 to £53m in 2014-15. Recent Dyfed-Powys Police initiatives have included a pledge that “When we’re in, we’re open” – police station visitors are seen as long as an officer is on site and it is safe to do so. To tell Mr Salmon what you would like to see from your local policing services in future, contact his office: Mail – OPCC, PO Box 99, Llangunnor, Carmarthen, SA31 2PF; email – opcc@dyfed-powys. pnn.police.uk. Talk on Twitter using #MyPolicePlaces.

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Dayne Stone

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