OFFICERS hope a new pop-up policing base will prove a hit with town centre shoppers in the run up to Christmas.

The Canal Walk unit will be open four days a week until December 22.

As well as police officers and PCSOs, it will be staffed by representatives from the council and other organisations like the Bobby Van Trust and drug addiction specialists Turning Point.

PC Paul Bezzant, town centre community co-ordinator for Wiltshire Police, said: “We speak with the public on daily basis through patrol or when things happen and they are a victim of crime. This is something different, something we’ve never done before. It’s a chance for them to come and have a chat about any concerns they’ve got.

“We won’t take crime reports but we’ll get intelligence, we’ll get information and we can hopefully signpost people to other agencies.”

Insp David Tippetts added: “This is all about community engagement, giving people the opportunity to come and see us, have a chat, see the sort of things that are priorities for the police and for us to make sure that we’ve got those priorities right.

“We want to find out what’s important to the people of Swindon.”

The shop has been provided free by the Brunel Centre. Di Powell, InSwindon chief executive, said: “It’s a win-win for us. It brings into use an empty unit and to have a visible presence from the police at a time when footfall is going to increase at Christmas is ideal.”

Steve Kensington, head of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to engage better with the people of Swindon over the next six weeks.”

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire, stressed the importance of getting different organisations under one roof: “Policing is not the sole responsibility of the police. What we’ve got here is a multi-agency approach to giving advice about policing and how to stop yourself becoming a victim of crime.”

However, some eyebrows may be raised as the shop opens almost four years after Wiltshire Police closed its Henry Street policing point. The force moved officers to a council building on Euclid Street in January 2015.

Insp Tippetts told the Advertiser: “We still have a police station in the town centre, but not in the same way.

“This pop-up shop is not a traditional police station. We’re not doing interviews here. It’s somewhere for the public to come and talk to us.”

Mr Macpherson added: “This shop is in a busy part of town. It’s garnering interest on the first day. I don’t think it would work so well if it were here all year round. It’s the novelty of it that works.”

He said there were currently no plans to repeat the pop-up shop model elsewhere in the county, but there was no reason not to if the Swindon shop proved its worth.

The shop will open 10am-2pm, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to December 22.