Taking the right steps: £130m investment plan to transform Merseyside Police stations
On October 1st, 2014, Jane and Merseyside Police's then Chief Constable, Sir Jon Murphy, joined forces to unveil their proposals to transform the Force’s buildings and ensure officers remain at the heart of communities across the region.
The £130million 10-year investment plan aimed to 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 the announcement at a major press conference, the Commissioner commenced a two-month consultation inviting people across Merseyside to have their say on the proposals.
This consultation closed on December 5th, 2014, and on December 22nd, the Commissioner announced there had been overwhelming support for her proposals, with 92% of respondents backing her plans.
The current police estate
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 can reduce these costs by £2.5million every year – saving money and protecting frontline policing jobs.
At the present time only 12 police stations are open to the public, of which six are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This equates to just one in each police area or Basic Command Unit.
Watch why this changes are so important below:
Taking the right steps
At the heart of these changes 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 the Commissioner's announcement of these proposals, a two-month consultation was launched, during which people were urged to have their views on these proposals.
During the consultation period in October and November 2014, Jane and her team held 20 community road shows - one in every policing area of Merseyside, hosted eight public meetings in prominent venues across Merseyside and attended several events to outline her proposals at the request of members of the public.
She also urged people to have their say through response leaflets and a dedicated website.
This consultation closed on December 5th, 2014. On December 22nd, 2014, the Commissioner announced there had been "overwhelming support" for her proposals, with more than 92% of backing her plans.
Read more about Jane's response to the consultation here.
Read the full consultation report
Prior to these proposals being launched in October 2014, a report was prepared for the Police and Crime Panel to keep them updated on the progress of the strategy:
Estates Strategy November 2013
In advance of announcing these proposals to the public, the Commissioner carried out extensive briefings with key stakeholders, including local authority leaders and chief executive, MPs offices, criminal justice and community safety partners.
Any decisions made in relation to the Estate Strategy will be fully detailed in the Meetings and Decisions section of this website.