Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Afraid You'll Have to Call Back Later

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Afraid You'll Have to Call Back Later

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN SEDDON Reporter @seddonnews

EFFORTS are to be made to save threatened services at police stations across the North East.

Northumbria Police recently announced it would be shaking up resources at public contact points, meaning just one front desk at its stations will continue to operate 24 hours a day.

Barring one station in Sunderland, anybody who needs direct contact at a station after 8pm will have to use a fixed telephone or an interactive screen from July 17.

The news was greeted with concern by politicians, including Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, who described the move as "a real downgrading of policing in our city".

Now the public sector union UNISON has claimed the move is a step "too far" and has launched a petition.

Regional secretary Clare Williams said: "UNISON's labour link conference last week sent a clear message to the Government that cuts to police staff have gone too far.

"We are therefore disappointed that Northumbria Police still intend to go ahead with further cuts and have not responded positively to our earlier request for proper consultation to take place.

"We hope, even at this stage, they will listen to UNISON and the wider community" Newcastle's largest station and the force's HQ, Forth Banks, and Gateshead will operate from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

All other stations within Central Area Command will move to opening hours of 9am to 5pm.

Following the cut backs, three stations - Hebburn, Amble and Killingworth - will no longer have any front desk provision at all.

The force estimates the changes will reduce the cost of running front offices from PS3.2m a year to PS1.4m.

UNISON's e-petition is designed "to encourage the public to become involved" in opposition to the move, with bosses warning the changes could mean a PS6,000 pay cut for some staff. …

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