THE front counter at Witney police station is among three in the county which are set to permanently close.

The Welch Way counter joins those in Bicester and Kidlington which will shut from August 30.

These counters have been closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19, with the exception of Kidlington which reopened following an initial closure.

Prior to the pandemic, the Witney front counter was open from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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Commenting on the changes, which were subject to a public consultation, Thames Valley Police (TVP) said: “Thames Valley Police is adapting to the different ways people now wish to make contact with us to ensure we continue to meet the changing needs of the diverse communities we serve.

“These changes do not affect police officer numbers nor the number of operational police bases so you will not experience any difference in the ongoing commitment we have to visible policing in our Thames Valley communities.

“There will continue to be good geographic coverage of front counters across the Thames Valley if you need to access one.”

Andrew Prosser, Green Party candidate for Witney North, said: “The closure of the front desk in the police station will not be welcomed by residents in Witney, who are already concerned about the speed and response rate of police to anti-social behaviour, speeding incidents and general disorder.

“It is also unacceptable that people who have to report to the police station should have to travel to Oxford or even Banbury.”

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Liberal Democrat district councillor Dan Levy added: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to close the front counters here or anywhere else as they play a crucial role in our community.

“It goes to show that Thames Valley Police has been starved of funding over the years.”

Local Labour Party leader Duncan Enright said: “We’ve lost so many police services over the last few years and this feels like another blow to policing.

“We want to see funding into policing to make our communities a safer place, and that includes our front counters.”

Merilyn Davies, cabinet member for communities and housing at West Oxfordshire District Council, said positives could be taken from the closures.

She said: “Policing has to evolve with the changing ways in which we communicate and must direct resources accordingly.

“While front counters are seen as reassuring, they may not be the best way to serve the public, and so it’s right for the police to explore new ways to do this while maintaining a visible presence in our communities, one which is crucial for us to feel safe and protected.”

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Front counters at Oxford, Abingdon and Banbury will be retained, however there may be changes to opening hours.

TVP reported that ‘more and more’ people are contacting the force online and by phone.

Non-emergency crimes or incidents, anti-social behaviour and applying for firearms licensing can all be reported online.

If you are a foreign national expecting to attend a front counter due to close, you will be offered an appointment at an alternative location.

If you are required to sign on bail at a front counter affected by closure, you will need to attend another front counter location.

Contact TVP on the non-emergency number 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.