Big changes to police station opening times in Sheffield will improve reliability and make it easier for people to report crimes in person, say those in charge.
New hours for enquiry desks at the city’s three police stations have been introduced this month.
While the total hours remain the same for all three stations, the two smaller ones now alternate between earlier and later opening during the week.
That means members of the public can visit Moss Way from 8am-4pm between Monday and Wednesday, and from 12pm-8pm between Thursday and Saturday, while the reverse will be true for Ecclesfield.
The enquiry desk at Snig Hill in Sheffield city centre remains open from 8am-8pm seven days a week.
Rachael Hayes, South Yorkshire Police’s business manager for Sheffield, said the shake-up followed national changes to employment rights for non front-line police staff, meaning their shift patterns must now be drawn up a year in advance and they cannot be asked to deviate from those hours.
She explained that this was making it even harder when staff were sick to provide cover at enquiry desks, which had been forced to close at short notice on numerous occasions.
She claimed members of the public were consulted and alternating opening hours had proved the most popular option.
Not only does this make it easier for staff at Snig Hill to provide cover at the other stations, she said, it gives members of the public greater flexibility about when to attend their nearest station.
“The new working conditions mean a better life-work balance for our staff but they also gave us less flexibility to cover any gaps due to sickness,” said Ms Hayes.
“It meant members of the public could turn up and find the station closed because we weren’t able to deviate staff to a different shift.
“These new opening times give us greater resilience to provide cover where needed and give a wider span of hours when people can attend their nearest station, making it easier to fit visits in around their working patterns or lifestyle.”
Ms Hayes said staffing at the enquiry desks had fallen in recent years as demand dropped, with more people contacting police online or via phone, but face-to-face contact was still sometimes necessary.
The new hours, which came into effect on Monday, September 17, are:
On bank holidays, only Snig Hill will be open, from 8am-8pm.
All enquiry desks will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
For more information on how to contact police, click here.