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Police feedback forms fail to get a lot of... feedback
12:00pm Thursday 22nd May 2014 in News
JUST 12 people completed a questionnaire used to gauge the impact of cuts to police station opening hours.
Thames Valley Police scaled back public access hours at its police stations by up to 70 per cent two years ago to save £600,000 over three years.
A union boss said the low number of responses could be explained by people being unable to access the form as the front counters were closed.
Following the cuts in 2011, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith urged Thames Valley to keep an eye on the services after the Oxford Mail revealed the force did not know whether cuts in station opening hours have had an impact on people reporting crimes.
He said: “I don’t think 12 feedback forms over two years can tell you very much at all, so the police should check they are doing all they can to get helpful feedback.
“To be fair, I imagine a lot more people would give comments on the phone or by email. “The police do need to keep an eye on this, to make sure people who need to get in touch are able to do so, but at the end of the day the police will be judged on how well they respond to calls for help, in cutting crime and catching criminals. Most people would sooner the police were fighting crime than dealing with bureaucracy.”
The Front Counter Customer Feedback Forms – which have been available at police stations since 2011 – give visitors a chance to voice their views on the service they received.
Visitors were asked how long they had to wait and asked to rank their experience either excellent, average or disappointing. They are also asked to make any comments.
Following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, Thames Valley Police released the responses it has received since the surveys were launched.
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No details of ratings were provided but two of the respondents said they were dissatisfied while the other 10 were complimentary about the service.
Rod Matheson, Thames Valley Police Unison branch secretary, said perhaps there would be more criticism if visitors could get into the stations to access the forms.
He said: “If you roll up at the police station and it is closed and they are outside and available you might be more inclined to fill them in.”
He said the force should concentrate on having accessible stations open longer than keeping remote bases open.
The force last night could not say how much the questionnaires had cost to produce.
But it said it also received two emails, two phone calls, and two letters complaining about opening hours.
When asked if the force was doing enough to monitor the impact of reduced front counter opening hours, Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Rhianne Pope said it would continue to gauge feedback on the front counter service.
She said: “We are notified of any complaints or notes of dissatisfaction which the force receives and these are passed to the Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships department.
“Front counters are not the only way of accessing our service and as we extend the ways people can contact their local officers, we look at the impact this has on our front counters.”
The force has also moved some front counter services away from police stations. One is now manned by council staff at the Guildhall in Chipping Norton and another is run by police staff at a library in Wantage.
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