The move to three police and custody centres in Bridgwater, Patchway and Keynsham has given Avon and Somerset Police a unique opportunity to take a long hard look at its estate.
Our primary aims have been to achieve an estate across the force area that meets the needs of our communities, our staff, and operational policing. While also reducing our portfolio of buildings by at least 36% by 2019, to support the further savings we anticipate we will need to achieve over the coming years. Reducing our buildings and achieving savings in this way allows us to keep more police officers and staff on or close to the frontline.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “As we get ready to move into these three state of the art new police centres I want to be clear with local people about our future estate plans.
“I do not want residents to feel that the police are withdrawing from their area or street. Far from it. Our plans are about reducing the amount of oversized and under-utilised buildings we own and providing the best possible access for our communities.
“In the traditional sense police stations as you know them now, will change. Soon you are much more likely to see your local police team located with other ‘blue light’ services such as fire and ambulance or with your local council. This means that the police will be where you need them most, in the heart of your community.
“This is an exciting time for local policing and reinforces our commitment to serving our communities while being more efficient and cost effective with our buildings.”
The existing estate ‘footprint’ includes old outdated buildings that are expensive to run and maintain and not flexible enough to support the wider changes we are facing as we implement our new operating model. Others will be under-occupied when the three new police and custody centres open. In some areas, our police stations are in the wrong places and difficult for the public to access.
Where medium-sized police buildings are no longer needed, they will be sold. Smaller, less expensive and more sustainable bases will be sought which will offer greater flexibility and enable us to work more closely with our partners if possible.
We are actively looking at opportunities to develop shared facilities with other local service providers where possible including local councils, fire and ambulance, building on the success of co-locations in Weston Super Mare and Kingswood.
Many of the changes will also reflect the need for buildings to be flexible to meet future demands. Whilst some moves will take place this summer as the new police centres open, others are longer term and will happen the next 4 to 5 years. The strategy will minimise estate running costs wherever possible and align our buildings better to the locations we need to be.
Director of Finance Julian Kern commented: “The opening of the new police centres has presented us with a valuable opportunity to look at our police estate. We have identified where we are and where we should be to best serve our communities and support our operational officers.
“In addition, many of our buildings are in need of significant investment and are too large for what we need. We are keen to work with our local partners and seek smaller and more flexible locations.
“Some of the details of exactly where will be moving to are not yet confirmed and commercial discussions are underway in some cases. We will communicate with the local communities affected when we have the details.”
Read the full estate plan here
The three new police and custody centres have been funded by a private finance initiative (PFI). PFI is method developed by the UK government, to provide financial support for public-private partnerships.
In this case, the police buildings are the property of the developer (Blue Light Partnership) for the first 25 years and ASP pays for them by a unitary charge. In return they get a building to meet future needs, along with maintenance and various other services. At the end of the 25 year PFI contract the buildings are handed over to ASP ownership, who will receive it in “as new” condition.
Posted on Monday 28th April 2014