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"Overwhelming support" for £130m plan to modernise Merseyside Police stations

Merseyside / December 22

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has thanked people across the region for demonstrating “overwhelming support” for her proposals to modernise Merseyside Police stations.

More than 92% of respondents have backed Jane Kennedy’s plan to invest £130m to transform the police estate and provide new Community Police Stations to ensure officers remain at the heart of the communities they serve.

The Commissioner unveiled the 10-year investment plan alongside Merseyside Police Chief Constable Sir Jon Murphy on October 1st and simultaneously launched a two-month consultation inviting people across the region to have their say.

As part of the consultation, Jane held 20 community road shows – one in every policing neighbourhood, hosted eight public meetings in prominent venues across the region and also attended and presented her proposals at three meetings at the request of members of the community. People were also encouraged to share their views through a dedicated website.

During these events, the Commissioner outlined how the investment plan would make neighbourhood teams more visible in their communities, fund a new serious and organised crime centre, and save £2.5million every year on the cost of running the present police estate – protecting 65 police officer posts each year.

At the conclusion of the consultation on Friday (December 5th), more than 3,760 members of the public, partners, police officers and staff had been spoken to, with 2,492 people giving a response. A total of 92% of respondents supported the Commissioner’s investment plan. Their comments and feedback demonstrated the public’s enthusiasm for the proposals to be put into place.

Jane said: “I’m pleased that the people of Merseyside have shown such overwhelming support for these proposals.

“It is clear that people across the region recognise the need for Merseyside Police to update and modernise their buildings and stations so the Force is in the best possible position to serve the public and fight crime today and in the future.

“The vast majority of people my team and I spoke to recognised that while these proposals are driven by the need to save money and protect officer’s jobs, they also provide the perfect opportunity to improve our stations and buildings and make Merseyside Police even more accessible to people in our region.

“Many people were genuinely enthusiastic about the prospect of having a modern Community Police Station that would be regularly open to them in the heart of their community.

“Austerity has forced us to review every element of our operation. It’s not possible to lose 1,200 officers, PCSOs and staff without also looking at our buildings. But the reality is that these changes are long overdue.

“These are the right steps to take and the right time to take them.”

Merseyside Police’s estate currently consists of 78 buildings, with an average of 52 years, and some dating as far back as 1890. It currently costs more than £12m to run this estate each year and, due to the age and inefficiency of the existing buildings, that figures is rising. By putting these proposals in place the Commissioner will reduce the running costs by £2.5m every year – enough to keep an extra 65 police officers on the beat.

Key to the proposals is the Commissioner’s police and crime priority of providing visible and accessible neighbourhood policing. Jane has pledged that every local authority will have a new or refurbished area headquarters and modern, accessible Community Police Stations, housing teams of neighbourhood officers and PCSOs that will be open to the public on a regular basis each week.

Jane said: “By investing in modern, efficient and accessible police buildings, we will be protecting frontline policing and putting officers where the public want to see them – in their communities.

“Throughout this consultation, people told me time and time again that they wanted to see more officers and PCSOs. They also told me they wanted to know the names of their neighbourhood team and where they could find them. That is at the core of these proposals.

“I want to thank the public for their support. Now they have given me their approval, the Chief Constable and I can start to make these changes. It won’t happen overnight and we are still facing devastating budget cuts, but I hope over the coming months and years, people in the region will see their police force becoming even more visible in their communities.”

With the public’s support for the proposals secured, the Commissioner can now start to implement the most urgent changes. One of the first developments to be undertaken will be the creation of a new centre to tackle serious and organised crime. The £44million Operational Command Centre will bring all the teams that form the Matrix Serious and Organised Crime team (MSoC) together under one roof, enabling them to provide a more resilient and sophisticated approach to tackling the threats of serious and organised crime.

An area of land in Speke has already been identified as a potential location for the centre and work will now commence to see if this proposal can be developed.

The Commissioner and Chief Constable will also now begin discussions about the future of Merseyside Police Headquarters in Canning Place.

Find out about the full proposals at www.takingtherightsteps.com

Read the full consultation report here