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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September 2004, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Post offices take on police role
Police officer in post office
Police officers will be in the post office to give advice
People will able to report crimes to the police at their local post office in a pilot scheme which starts in Norfolk on Monday.

Eight post offices will help improve public access to the police through a 24-hour phone link.

In addition, post office staff will be able to check driving documents, handle lost property and give out leaflets.

The scheme, which will run for six months, will also allow people to visit police officers at the post office.

'Brilliant' scheme

Jacky Welsh, sub postmistress of Watton Post Office, near Thetford, said: "I think the scheme is absolutely brilliant.

"We have a part-manned police station in the village, whereas the post office is open Saturday mornings and nine hours a day on weekdays."

Marilyn Stoddart, assistant general secretary of the National Federation of Sub Postmasters, said: "Members of the public trust their village post office.

"Sub postmasters are well used to dealing with transactions in confidence."
We don't want any budding Inspector Morses in the post offices around Britain
Jan Berry, chairman of the Police Federation

Norfolk Police believe the scheme will greatly increase accessibility and increase the confidence of the public in police officers.

Insp Paul Wade said: "We're trying to have face-to-face contact in partnership with the post office in order to give the community a comfortable feel and to reduce the fear of crime."

However, chairman of the Police Federation Jan Berry said sub postmasters had to be clear about their role in the scheme.

"We don't want any budding Inspector Morses in the post offices around Britain," she told BBC Radio 4.

The scheme will be launched at Watton Post Office at 1000 BST.

The other post offices involved are: Upwell, Swaffham, Downham Market, Holt, Wells next the Sea, and Stalham and Acle near Norwich.

The scheme follows a similar one in Scotland.


Your comments:

The Post Office already provides far too many services. Anybody who wants to do something as old-fashioned as, say, posting a parcel already has to wait for ages while customers in front apply for loans, purchase car insurance, pay their gas bills and get their passport applications checked. Last time I had to report a crime at a police station, I had to spend around 90 minutes with a police officer while he filled in all the paperwork. This was for a simple mugging. The police could provide a better service by reducing the amount of time they spend on paperwork, rather than simply transferring the workload to post offices.
Neil, London

Excellent idea, will help prevent loss of post offices and provide another way to contact the police, especially at times when local police stations are closed. Could help reinforce community spirit as well!
Ian Evans, Bognor Regis West Sussex

What the Police really need is funding and not transparent gimmicks such as this. I don't think there would be many people in the country that would object to paying a little more for Policing in their Council Tax rather than forking out for misguided money-pit ideas such as Leicester's recent Refuse Recycling debacle.
Kerry, Leicester

The assumption is that the Postmaster will be trustworthy. The Postmaster in the village I grew up in was far from trustworthy; he used to short-change OAP's regularly. If a man like that is to be trusted with issuing firearms licences, I'm very worried....
Annette Hughes, UK

Frees up the police to pound the beat
Jon Herman, Feltham, UK
Honestly, what is so bad about this idea? On the one hand people complain about post offices being shut - diversifying their business keeps them open, especially if there's a public demand for the service. Also, if sub-postmasters are doing routine police clerical work, that frees up the police to pound the beat. Problem, what problem?
Jon Herman, Feltham, UK

What about the queues, I have been to the Post Office at all different times and always have to queue - we even have a Post Office open until 6.00pm and still have to queue. Sort this out first before adding more services.
Pamela Wright, Wset Sussex

Will that be a first class or second class service?
John, Chippenham, Wilts

I can't understand why some people are always so negative. I'd rather have policy on the street fighting crime than sitting in a police station looking at driving licences and dealing with lost property. Sounds like a promising move to me!
Derek, Oxfordshire

Yet more policing on the cheap, still, it should come in handy next time a Post Office is held up!
David, Norwich, England

I can't believe that a post office counter worker would be put in a position where they know confidential crime related information. Can you imagine how the criminal element will be if asked to produce documents, the intimidation to "tick the box" would be obvious. I'm afraid that it's just another step in closing local police stations, discussed by fast track politically correct officers who have never really done the job.
Stuart Baugh, West Mids

This sounds like a good idea - it will help achieve economies of scale in rural service delivery- whether post or police. It is important that the remaining post offices in rural areas are supported and also that the police are more accessible and this seems like an important part of achieving those aims.
David, Rural Somerset

The Post Office have problems delivering their core product - The post! They should concentrate on that first. We don't want to 'visit police officers at the post office", we want to see the police on the street delivering their core product - reducing crime.
Trevor, UK

Another fudge issue created to get policing on the cheap it does not put police on the street like the public wants to see, in many areas there are no post offices as they have all been closed down just as the police stations have. This is just another ill thought out plan by politicians that has lost touch with reality.
Martin, Wales

This idea is a retrograde step in getting the police where they belong, on the streets confronting all that is wrong in modern day society. The police should have more powers of arrest and not have their hands tied by the do-gooders who are intent on giving criminals their human rights, more sympathy should be given to the victims, not the other way around
Frederick Aston, Blackpool Lancashire

This sounds like another gimmick to me, what we need are more bobbies on the beat.
Chris, Coventry, Uk.

The government continues to try these crackpot schemes that appear to be doing good, but in reality do the opposite, and are merely a measure to spend as little money as possible on essential public services. How can the public have more confidence in the police if they can talk only to a member of the post office staff? Stop trying out these stupid time-wasting schemes and spend taxpayers' money on real policemen/women, in real Police Stations, doing a real policeman/woman's job. The post office has enough of a job delivering letters on time or at all. Giving them more responsibilities will be of little help.
K Matless, Paris, France

Sounds great! Now all my village needs is a Post Office ...
Linda, Somerset

"A dozen first class stamps and a crime report number, please"
Tony Kenny, Barrow, UK

It is now clear that we have subordinated our law enforcement to the money saving suits that are, in reality, the modern police. This is another spin exercise. We all have phones, we have mobiles (and what ever happened to the police calling to see you?) and we expect a degree of presence. So what is an exercise like this really all about? With the queues at the post office already meaning that we have to take the afternoon off or at least have extended lunch breaks. The PO should get its act together before it takes on any more responsibilities.
Simon Hilton, Leicestershire



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The BBC's Peter Lane
"Police forces around the UK will be keeping an eye on the results"



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