Officers and staff from Avon and Somerset Police and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue will operate under one roof following a proposal for the re-location of the local policing team and enquiry office to Yeovil Fire Station.
The announcement comes following a decision by Avon and Somerset Constabulary to close the police cells in Yeovil, after the facility was deemed no longer suitable. An independent report by the Home Office stated that the cells were no longer compliant with the latest Home Office standards. The cost of replacing the old cells with a new custody building was estimated at £8.5million. The Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner felt this could not be justified given the current use of the cells which has halved since 2010.
Instead the Constabulary will operate a detainee transport service at peak times of demand, where police staff will transport people who have been arrested to Bridgwater Police Centre, allowing police officers to continue patrolling their local area.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is actively seeking two new strategic sites to locate response teams.
In 2014, Avon and Somerset Constabulary identified Yeovil Police Station for closure as part of its estates strategy and since then has been working on identifying and confirming an alternative location and arrangements for the services currently delivered from Yeovil. The commitment to retaining a visible policing presence and a fixed location in a local community such as Yeovil, when we are looking to re-locate a station, is reiterated in our recently revised Estates Strategy 2016.
Built in 1962, Yeovil Fire Station will become Avon and Somerset’s first joint Fire and Police Centre, ensuring that Yeovil retains a policing footprint and offering to build on opportunities for the two emergency services to work more closely together.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I’ve always been clear that Yeovil deserves a strong policing presence. Moving neighbourhood officers and the enquiry office to the fire station makes perfect sense as it’s close to the town centre and more convenient for local people.
“The existing Yeovil Police Station site is too big for the Constabulary’s needs and is not value for money for local people. We have thoroughly assessed the options and there is no possibility of upgrading the current facilities. It would be wrong to invest in the current building simply to adapt it to our requirements when we have the option to co-locate with another emergency service. Co-locating with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue will enable us to retain our focus on frontline policing, make significant savings and is a great opportunity to work even better together.”
Avon and Somerset Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “We are already working closely with the fire service who are helping us in responding swiftly on our behalf to calls about concerns for safety. If someone is worried about an elderly or vulnerable person who hasn’t been seen or spoken to for some time, the fire service are able to get to the address quickly and use their training and equipment to get access safely and with minimal damage to the property. This collaboration, and our move to a shared site in Yeovil are important developments for us; we save money through co-location, provide a better service for the public closer to the centre of Yeovil, and work closer still to find new complementary ways of working together. There are benefits all round.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue are both members of the South West Emergency Services Forum. As part of this programme the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Constable, Fire and Rescue Authority and Chief Fire Officer have agreed in principle to establish the joint strategic base in Yeovil at the current Yeovil Fire Station.
Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, Chief Fire Officer, Lee Howell said: “We already have strong working relationships with our police colleagues. We believe that better joint working will strengthen both services and deliver considerable savings and benefits to the public.”
Fire Authority Chairman, Mark Healey said: “This is about smarter working. The Government have introduced legislation that places a statutory duty on emergency services to actively consider collaboration opportunities with one another to improve efficiency and effectiveness. This will allow us to improve the already excellent service we provide to the public.”
Detailed discussions will now take place between Fire and the Police to establish the logistics of the move. Avon and Somerset Police will imminently be offering the current Yeovil Police Station to market, ensuring the police estates is sold for its maximum value, making the required savings for investment into frontline policing.
Posted on Wednesday 23rd November 2016