Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd is to ask Hertfordshire residents for their views on police station ‘front counters’.

Walking-in to see a police officer at a ‘front counter’ is no longer an option at most police stations.

But on Wednesday (September 20) Mr Lloyd told a meeting of the county council’s public health and community safety cabinet panel that there was now a ‘live debate nationally’ about whether they should be re-opened.

He said this focused on whether access to front counters could improve the public perception of officer accessibility.

He added that next month his office would be conducting a public survey around this.

“Many of you will know the long and difficult history of police station front counters,” said Mr Lloyd.

“Many years ago the majority of front counters were closed because the public simply did not use them.

“There’s a live debate nationally about whether front counters should be reopened and whether doing so would improve public perceptions of police officer accessibility.”

Mr Lloyd also highlighted data that revealed the reasons people currently visited the ‘front counters’ operating at police stations in Hatfield and Stevenage.

According to that data, in a three-week period he said there were 891 people who attended both station front counters.

Of those he said 186 were for ‘bail checks’, 131 were to collect property confiscated as part of a custody booking-in process, and 88 were to ask a custody-related question.

He said 62 people visited to sign on the Sex Offender Register, 50 to produce documentation and 19 to sign for immigration.

In addition he said 49 people wanted to speak to a police officer when no appointment had been made and 11 wanted to use a toilet. Three people, he said, turned-up wanting to hand themselves in.

“It’s a small insight into the question  of front counter provision,” said Mr Lloyd.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Hertfordshire Constabulary's HQ, in WGC

Full review of of constabulary to ensure effectiveness

The PCC has also announced plans for a full  review of Hertfordshire Constabulary.

Underpinned by principles of evidence-based policing and the ‘prevention first’ approach, Mr Lloyd says he has commissioned the review alongside chief constable Charlie Hall.

At the September 20 meeting, he outlined the project to a meeting of the county coucil’s public health and community safety cabinet panel.

Led by a team of officers and staff from the constabulary and the commissioner’s office, the review will look at "the whole structure of the organisation", said Mr Lloyd, "to ensure that all areas are fit for purpose for modern-day policing".

It will analyse data and evidence to propose and cost new models, designed to maximise effectiveness and efficiency across the organisation, and determine the "highest areas of demand and ‘harm'", by both geography and crime type.

The review is set to will identify areas and departments that require more resources  – as well as those where savings can be made, by working in ‘different’ or ‘innovative ways’.

“The performance of the force is good and is constantly monitored,” he told councillors.

“But this dedicated and comprehensive review will ensure that the constabulary is working in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lloyd also outlined plans to consult on a strategy that would outline how he would work with the chief constable to improve and further embed a culture of transparency, accountability and ethical behaviour.

The strategy would focus on addressing the "most immediate and pressing matters which can betray public trust".

“It recognises the vast majority of officers carry out their work with the utmost integrity and the good of the public at the forefront of their minds,” he said.

“However we know that a minority of officers who may abuse and exploit their privileged positions are out there."

Mr Lloyd said there would be additional investment to further develop vetting and recruitment processes, to provide additional checks on ‘behaviours and motivations’, with enhanced and more regular screening.

“A huge amount of work has already been undertaken in this area by my office and within the constabulary, but it is right that we continue to look for where further improvements can be made.”