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£130m proposals to transform Merseyside Police stations unveiled

Merseyside / October 01

Taking the right steps: £130m investment to transform Merseyside Police stations announced

Merseyside Police’s Commissioner and Chief Constable will today unveil their proposals to transform the Force’s buildings and ensure officers remain at the heart of communities across the region.

Over the next 10 years, the £130million plan will provide community police stations for each neighbourhood, 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.

Following today’s announcement, the Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, will start a two-month consultation inviting you to have your say on the proposals. HAVE YOUR SAY

Merseyside Police’s estate currently consists of 78 buildings, with an average age of 52 years and some dating as far back as 1890. The last police station built on Merseyside was the station on Stanley Road, Kirkdale, back in the seventies.

Many of these ageing buildings are inefficient and expensive to maintain. They currently cost more than £12m each year to run and this bill is increasing. By putting these proposals in place, the Commissioner intends to reduce these costs by £2.5million every year – saving money and protecting frontline policing jobs.

At the heart of these proposals is the Commissioner and Chief Constable’s commitment to providing visible and accessible neighbourhood policing.

Every community will have a neighbourhood team of officers and PCSOs. New or refurbished area headquarters will be provided in each of the five local authority areas and community police stations will be developed where old police stations are currently closed to the public.

Community Police Stations have already proved a huge success in St Helens, reducing anti-social behaviour and improving relationships with the public. The intention is to roll this model out across the region, providing modern facilities which are regularly open to local people.

Jane said: “These are hard times, but I am committed to providing accessible and visible policing for every community. I want to invest in modern police stations and save money too.

“Austerity has forced us to review every aspect of the police estate. Merseyside Police has been harder hit than most. By 2018, we predict government cutbacks will have forced Merseyside Police to lose 29% of its people – officers, PCSOs and staff.  Already 60% of our buildings are empty or under used and this is only going to increase.

“We simply cannot lose so many people without also looking at the buildings and facilities that they use. The current police estate is unsustainable. It is ageing and becoming increasingly expensive to run.

“While these drastic and devastating cutbacks have presented us with significant challenges, we also believe this is a really exciting opportunity to transform the estate – making Merseyside Police even more accessible for the people of our region.

“Merseyside Police’s buildings desperately need to be upgraded. Our stations and facilities are no longer fit to serve the public or fit for the officers, PCSOs and staff that work in them.

“By transforming our estate, creating more efficient and effective buildings, we will be protecting frontline policing and putting officers where the public want to see them – in the communities they serve.

“By opening up these modern Community Police Stations, officers and PCSOs will be more accessible to the public and we will be saving money and protecting jobs.

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

The proposals include plans to create a new centre designed to tackle serious and organised crime in Speke. The £44million Operation Command Centre will bring together all the teams that form the Matrix Serious and Organised Crime team (MSoC) under one roof.

It also includes plans for the £26million refurbishment of Merseyside Police Headquarters in Canning Place for essential repairs to be delivered.

Merseyside Police’s Chief Constable Sir Jon said: “It’s fair to say that we have an estate of police stations and office buildings which are not fit for purpose, due to their age and condition, some even date back to Victorian times.

“Some of our existing buildings are in a state of disrepair and badly in need of modernisation. There is no doubt that the cost of maintenance for our existing estate has become a drain on our finances and although we have reduced in size as a Force in recent years, we still retain the same number of buildings, with space in neighbourhood police stations being under used. The longer we leave it – the bigger the problem will become and costs will increase.

“The Commissioner is committed to investing money to provide the force with an estate that is fit for purpose, located in the right places to serve our communities.”

Following today’s announcement, the Commissioner will be commencing a two-month consultation, urging people to give their views on these proposals.

During the consultation Jane will be visiting every area of Merseyside, holding public meetings in each local authority area and community roadshows in every policing neighbourhood. She is also asking people to have their say through feedback leaflets and via an online site.

For all the details of these events, for more information and to have your say, please visit takingtherightsteps.com