Merseyside Police is currently looking at the general enquiry office (GEO) service the force provides to its local communities and how to provide the best service possible based on community needs, customer and resource demands and the changing use of technology.
An extensive review of the current GEO service found that the number of people visiting GEOs across Merseyside has reduced drastically. On average, just 1.2 customers per hour attend GEOs in the force.
Some have higher visitor numbers than others and some have very low footfall.
Sefton’s opening hours are currently unaffected by the changes.
Southport police station will be open between 8am and 10pm Monday to Saturday and 8am-5pm on Sundays.
Marsh Lane police station will be open Monday-Saturday between 8am and 10pm and closed on a Sunday.
The review found that because of staff shortages, frontline officers have often had to provide cover at the enquiry counters, preventing them from responding to emergency incidents.
As a result of the review a decision has been made to change some GEO opening times to prevent the force from having to backfill the general enquiry service with police officers who should be out on the streets, responding to emergency incidents and protecting our communities.
The force is currently looking to employ additional temporary staff to provide the GEO service
The force is currently looking to employ additional temporary staff to change the GEO opening hours (current opening hours can be found in Editors Notes below).
The public will also have access to the Community Police Stations, which provide an additional service in our local communities.
Merseyside police will communicate other updated hours when we have recruited the additional staff required to provide a further amended service across the force.
Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, said: “It’s really important to us to get the right offer for our communities and that needs to balance their needs with the demand we see for services, so we can put our resources in the right places. Year on year we have seen attendance at our general enquiry offices falling and often, because of staff shortages, frontline officers have had to provide cover at the enquiry offices, when they should have been out on the streets.
“Quite often there is a misconception when a general enquiry office is closed and people think the station is no longer operational. This is not the case.”
“In the last decade there have been many changes in technology resulting in significant changes to the way people are contacting the police.
“Now with the advent of social media, and the internet, more and more people are using social media as a contact mechanism. At the beginning of 2018 we introduced a dedicated social media desk, allowing the public the ability to contact us online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to report non-emergency incidents online, or to ask for advice. In the last 14 months the desk has dealt with an average of 2500 contacts per month and demand has increased by 170 per cent.
“We do appreciate though that not everyone will want to talk to us on social media, so we are looking at the different ways that our communities contact us in their totality to ensure that we come up with a sustainable solution to enable the public to contact us when they need us. We will listen to feedback from our communities before we make future decisions.
“Any decisions we make will not be made lightly, but it must be remembered that since 2010 the force has lost £103m and more than 1,100 officers and staff due to funding cuts. We have already made a lot of hard decisions, but the impact of these cuts is continuing and the decisions we are having to make are getting harder. But I can assure the public of St Helens and Merseyside that our duty to protect the public remains our primary aim and we will continue to deliver the best possible service we physically can with the budget and the resources we have.”
Alternative ways to contact Merseyside Police include the force website, or @MerPolCC. Alternatively, you can call 101 for non-emergency calls, or 999 in an emergency.