Runcorn Police Station. (Runcorn Weekly News)
Reception at Runcorn Police Station could close according to Cheshire Police plans.
The force has launched a public consultation on the proposals, which would see the number of helplines reduced from 16 to five.
The rest of Runcorn Police Station would remain open.
Widnes would retain its counter service, as would Warrington, Blacon, Crewe and Macclesfield.
A Cheshire Police spokesperson said helplines have different opening hours and many are “rarely used” as more and more people use different ways to contact the organisation.
He said the police were keen to “ensure that the service they provide meets the changing needs of the public”.
The remaining five helpdesks would be open to the public between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Additionally, a virtual video link to a help desk officer would be available during the same opening hours at Northwich Police Station.
Deputy Chief Constable Bill Dutton said: ‘Firstly, I would like to reassure the public that these proposals will not reduce the level of service or the current police presence in Cheshire.
“Our operational teams and from where we deploy our police officers and our police community support officers are not affected.
“Since the introduction of support services in 2004, the landscape has changed considerably.
“A large part of the population has mobile phones and access to online services, which means that the need for face-to-face contact is diminishing.
“We have noticed that more people than ever are choosing to report crime and interact with police online or via mobile device, and as a police service we must adapt to these changes in our society.
“It is important to reiterate that we are not proposing to close any police stations, and although some support services would close under these proposals, these will be replaced by regular operations of community support officers from the police (PCSO).
“The savings we make will be reinvested in our Force Contact Center which will help improve our response times to respond to 999 and 101 calls, which is a key priority for the Gendarmerie.
“This investment will also support our work in handling online inquiries, which we are seeing more and more with the advancement of technology.
“However, it’s really important that our communities tell us about these proposed changes and I want to encourage people to give us feedback during the consultation process.”
John Dwyer, Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “In my policing and crime plan, I talk about delivering a modern policing service, and that includes changing the way the police works to reflect how the public contacts the police. .
“I want people to have confidence in our police service, so it is essential that everyone has a say in these proposals.
“More and more people are interacting with the police online, but I would like to say that the visible presence of the police will increase.
“The Chief Constable and I are resolute in our commitment to increase the police presence in Cheshire by bringing the number of our officers to their highest ever level on our current borders – a total of 2,347.
“We are investing in our Force Control Center, reducing 101 wait times and allowing officers to respond to 999 and 101 calls faster.
“The budget I have approved for 2022-23 includes an additional investment of £1.3million on top of this, putting more frontline staff where they are best placed to take your call if of need.
“People constantly tell me that the police need to invest more in how people want to contact us and prioritize resources effectively. This is what these proposals seek to do.
A survey is available online at https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=164432458930.
The consultation runs until March 27.
Anyone wishing to report a crime, incident or seeking advice from the police can do so by visiting www.cheshire.police.uk or calling 101.
In case of emergency or life danger, always dial 999.
For more news from Runcorn, Cheshire, click here, and for Widnes, here.