POLICE in Cricklade have started using their local leisure centre as a touchdown point following the closure of the town's police station.
Touchdown points are areas where police officers and staff can work and interact with the public, with welfare provision.
Following a review of Wiltshire’s Police Estates in 2017, Cricklade Police Station was deemed as no longer meeting the operational needs of the Force.
But Deputy PCC Russell Holland thinks a visible police presence is still important:
“Whilst the station has been closed and sold here in Cricklade, it was important that we found somewhere in the town where our officers could work, stop for refreshments and most importantly, meet members of the public.
“We’re grateful to everyone involved at Cricklade Town Council and to our own estates team for making sure that a suitable venue was found and I’d also like to thank Cricklade & District Community Association – the operators of the Leisure Centre – for their help in delivering this initiative and we look forward to working closely with them.
“Because the leisure centre is open from very early in the morning to late in the evening, I hope the touchdown point will provide a vital service to the people of Cricklade”
Cricklade Leisure Centre will provide officers and staff with access to toilet and kitchen facilities as well as access to rest areas. It also means there’s a place for the public to speak to officers face to face.
Inspector James Brain from the Chippenham and RWB Neighbourhood Team said:
“Our officers want to be visible and accessible to the public and modern technology means that we no longer need to return to a police station to carry out work.
"Having access to a public facility in the heart of our community means that our officers and staff can drop in for a refreshment break whilst on their patrols and still be available to engage with members of the public.
“If a member of the public wants to contact Wiltshire Police they should continue to call 101, or 999 in an emergency.
“But if they are using the centre and happen to see one of our officers or staff then they can, of course, raise any issues or concerns with them."
The former police station in Cricklade was sold to Cricklade Development Foundation, as part of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Estates strategy.
Cricklade Leisure Centre manager and town councillor Kate Grainger is looking forward to the touchdown point being used:
"I think it'll be excellent for the community. I've been really pushing forward to get this as a touchdown point having lost the station in the High Street so it'll be amazing to have them here.
Her words were echoed by Mark Clarke, the chair of Cricklade Town Council:
“The Leisure Centre is a very well used facility in the town and is therefore well suited to be the new Touchdown Point. We are confident that it will enable closer links between the residents and the police to the benefit of all concerned.”