Police estate under review as commissioner looks to reduce running costs

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite is set to review the future of police-owned property in Huntingdonshire as the force looks to cut the cost of running its estate.

Police properties in Huntingdon, St Ives, and Godmanchester will be examined by the commissioner and senior police staff to determine the best way they can be used in the future, while a former police station in Ramsey has been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’.

The police estate is currently valued at £35 million and costs £4 million annually to run. Mr Ablewhite says he wants to ensure resources are focussed on frontline policing and that inefficient and under-used buildings are disposed of.

The constabulary needs to find a further £5.2million of savings by the end of the financial year 2020/21, in order to balance its budget.

Recent work has already seen the number of police buildings reduce from 41 to 29 with the majority of those already closed being small satellite offices.

A number of projects are also under way which will ensure future policing needs are met. For example, a new vehicle workshop centrally located in St Ives is due to open in spring 2017. This will replace three separate buildings in March, Cambridge and Peterborough.

Also, management of police cells is part of the strategic alliance with Bedfordshire Police, and Hertfordshire Constabulary and a project is ongoing to find a suitable site in the Cambridge area to construct a new investigation centre. This will eventually replace the Parkside Police Station, allowing redevelopment of the site.

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Mr Ablewhite said: “As I have stated many times, my priority remains protecting the front line. Changes in policing brought about through new technology and collaboration means that the requirement on police estate has changed.

“It doesn’t make sense to retain buildings that the chief constable says are not required operationally. Buildings don’t protect people but people do.

“Where sites are not required, I will be looking to either sell them for an immediate return or, where appropriate, redevelop them in order to generate long-term income.”

Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “Agile working means that officers are no longer tied to police stations but instead are able to respond to needs more effectively. With better technology and collaborative working, officers can spend more time out in the community, increasing visibility which I know is what the public really want.

“This review will help us ensure we have the right facilities to meet future policing demand.”