A U-TURN over a controversial decision to close the front counter at a city police station on Sundays has been welcomed by one of the move's sternest critics.

The decision to close the front counter of Worcester Police Station in Castle Street on Sundays has been reviewed and it will now be open six hours on Sundays for 12 months.

Worcester News: CHANGE: Police and crime commission John Campion said the position had been revised following discussions CHANGE: Police and crime commission John Campion said the position had been revised following discussions (Image: PCC office)

T/chief superintendent Edd Williams said: “West Mercia Police front counters will remain open for six hours on Sundays. This will be the case for a 12-month period whilst the situation is further reviewed.”

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “This position has been revised following discussions. I am pleased that is the case as this is an important issue for the community. It is right however that the position remains subject to further review and engagement in the year ahead.”

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In changes which had been due to come into force on December 1, the front counter at Worcester was due to close to the public on Sundays before the announcement was made earlier this week.

Reacting to the change of direction, Cllr Richard Udall, who had criticised the decision to close the station on Sundays, said:  “This is wonderful news, I know a lot of people were worried and angry about the decision, let's hope the doors will remain open and no further attempts will be made to close them on a Sunday, or any other day, without widespread public consultation or engagement.

Worcester News: DISBELIEF: Cllr Richard Udall had expressed his concern - but welcomed the change DISBELIEF: Cllr Richard Udall had expressed his concern - but welcomed the change (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

“However, we do need a wider review about police provision in Worcester, police numbers are inadequate, they are missing key kit and equipment and they are simply unable to respond in a way the public expect, they are snowed under with paperwork and the response to the non-emergency 101 number is poor and not satisfactory, reform and investment is needed, the issue of staffing Sunday counters at the Police Station in Worcester was just the tip of the iceberg.  The issue about wider police resources needs to be addressed”. 

Before the U-turn, the Labour St John's city and county councillor and the county's lead member for crime and disorder, said: “This announcement is a sad reflection of the times, over the past 13 years we have seen cuts and more cuts to emergency services.

"It’s a well-known fact, criminals also work on Sundays.  Therefore the counters at police stations should also remain accessible on Sundays.  The public need the assurance that they can go to a police station to seek help, advice, report a crime or to give statements.

"The police are working under increasing pressure, they are required to deliver more with less.

The counter is now open seven days a week - 8am to 4.30pm on Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

From today (Friday, December 1) the counter will be open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and open six hours on Sundays.

Pete Nightingale of the Police Federation said: "Over a period of time we have had a reduction in the service provided by our front counter police staff due to cost restraints.

"This has resulted in police officers being abstracted from their operational roles to staff the front counter.

"Whilst we understand technological advances, we also know that a lot of the public like to have accessible front counters. 

"Increasing police officer numbers is welcome but having police officers fulfilling roles that has been previously carried out by civilian staff is just a way of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’."