FOLLOWING a campaign by the local council for improved communication, the Police and Crime Commissioner has confirmed a new police enquiry office will be opening in Liskeard.

A number of Liskeard councillors who have been in support of a new front desk for a number of years are “happy to hear” that the voices of local residents have been heard, saying that a front desk will “benefit local people”  and “enable better links between the police and public.”

The locations of four more police enquiry desks to be opened by Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner were unveiled on Friday, February 2, as Alison Hernandez presented her next budget to police and crime panel members.

Ms Hernandez’s project to create an additional 18 police enquiry offices (PEOs) around the force area has so far seen 13 open their doors to the public.

The commissioner presented her plan to accelerate this, which aims to reopen a further four in the next financial year.

A new PEO will open in Liskeard as well as Exeter city centre, Tavistock and Ivybridge.

The projects were due to be delivered over two financial years but this has been compressed, with all four due to re-open before April next year.

The commissioner said: “Connecting communities to the police force which serves them has been the underlying principle of my police and crime plans, and the opening of 18 more police enquiry offices is one example of how I can deliver on that principle. Police enquiry offices are places of safety where the public can get help and advice and offer an alternative to the phone in terms of a method of contact.

“Working with local partners on this project has been very rewarding, and it has been hugely gratifying to see the impact this investment has made in our communities, whose contribution via taxation has made it all possible.”

The locations selected have been chosen using a rationale of public demand, financial feasibility, and operational policing necessity.

It was reported that in this year’s Your Safety, Your Say survey conducted by the police and crime commissioner’s office, that 62 per cent of respondents said they supported or strongly supported further investment in PEOs and 76 per cent of respondents to a Devon and Cornwall Police survey agreed that accessible face-to-face contact via a police enquiry office increased confidence in local policing.

The first PEO to be re-opened by the commissioner was in Newquay in 2020. Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Truro, Falmouth, Penzance, Bude PEOs followed in 2021-22. Okehampton, Ilfracombe, Honiton, Kingsbridge, Devonport and Looe are being reopened in early 2024.

The final PEO delivered will be via the redevelopment of Exmouth Police Station – a £5-million project which the Commissioner is seeking planning permission for.

The project to invest in police enquiry offices has been warmly received by local councillors.

Liskeard central councillor Nick Craker said: “Liskeard has called for this front desk to reopen for some time, it will mean a great deal to the Liskeard community and enable better links between the police and public.”

Cllr Simon Cassidy, mayor of Liskeard, added: “I’m extremely happy to hear that the voices of the people of Liskeard have been finally heard as the police announced an enquiry office will be installed at Liskeard police station. So many people have been campaigning for this for so many years. We look forward to seeing this dream become a reality soon.”

Cllr Julian Smith from Liskeard town council has been working with a number of local councillors for a many years to support a new front desk, saying that it will be “a great move” for the town and will “help the police keep Liskeard safe”.

Cllr Julian Smith explained: “I am delighted to hear that Liskeard will be having a new front enquiry desk at its police station. I have been working for this with Cllr Jane Pascoe and Cllr Nick Craker since the new police station opened as we have long been convinced of the need by both police and our community. This facility will both benefit local people and the Police neighbourhood team who have told me they will be able to be more effective in their local policing when supported by a front desk service which can service the many enquiries they currently have to deal with which disrupts regular policing activity.”

Cornwall Councillor for Liskeard South and Dobwalls, Cllr Jane Pascoe, added: “Liskeard Police Station serves the wider rural area beyond Liskeard. I am so pleased that there will be the facility of a front desk at the police station.

“It can never be under-estimated how important it is to work together to keep us safe. To be able to report a crime in person will be so helpful for so many people who do not have digital communications.

“Since the day of the opening of the new police station I have been asking the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez for a front desk in Liskeard, I wish to thank her for listening to me and to Lucy Alison CC and the police officers that I am privileged to join on the Safer Liskeard Team.”

Cllr Pascoe has explained that there will be some internal alterations required to accommodate the front desk but that residents should continue to report crimes by phone or email.

Once the desk is operational, residents are encouraged to the facility “in order to retain it long into the future” Cllr Pascoe added.

The commissioner’s proposed budget for 2024/25 includes a £12.96 (4.95 per cent) rise in the precept paid by a band D property in the force area, taking band D precepts to £274.50 a year. The precept income, combined with an increase in the central government grant and savings of £5.4-million, will maintain officer numbers in Devon and Cornwall police at record high numbers of 3,610.

The commissioners intentions to spend £9.6-million on commissioning to help victims and maintain Devon and Cornwall as one of the safest police force areas in the country have been laid out in the 2024-25 Commissioning Intentions Plan. This includes commissioning of safer streets projects and victim services, and partnership work to improve road safety.

It was reported that in 2022-23, the last year for which figures are available, almost 29,543 victims of crime were referred to support services commissioned by Ms Hernandez.