Cumbria Police to open desks at supermarket and community centres

A police force is opening front desks in supermarkets and community centres two years after it closed a number of its stations.

Once a week members of the public will be able to report crimes, request crime prevention advice and arrange to make a statement, Cumbria Police said.

Among the locations is the Lidl supermarket in Wigton.

The force denied there could be further station closures if the scheme proves popular.

Supt Gary Slater told BBC Radio Cumbria: "This is about supporting services, going to locations where people are gathering so it's us going to them.

"Police desks are not a new concept. It's something we have tried in the past, 20 years ago.

"If people find it useful we will try to vary the times and locations, but this is the start of that.

"If somebody has something confidential they want to talk about this might only provide the first point of contact so we can arrange to go back and see them in a more sensitive setting."

Other locations for the desks include Shap's fire station, Brampton's Moot Hall, Longtown Community Centre, Cleator Moor Town Hall and Maryport's Wave Centre.

In December 2011 the force announced it would sell off 12 stations as part of a cost-cutting drive.

They included Wigton, Keswick and Cockermouth as well as Maryport, Cleator Moor, Egremont and Millom.

Cumbria Police Authority, which needs to trim £20.3m from its budget by 2016, said policing had changed and the public did not visit stations as often.

The authority said the closures would save almost £120,000 a year in running costs and £2.8m would be raised from the sale of the buildings.

Nine of the stations have now been sold.

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