Po­lice fire ser­vice base move could save £500k

Aldershot News & Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

AF­TER declar­ing its space­shar­ing scheme on a lo­cal level a suc­cess, Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary has an­nounced that its se­nior of­fi­cers are set to move in with the county's fire ser­vice.

Around 100 of­fi­cers will move into Hamp­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice’s (HFRS) base in Eastleigh in a cost­sav­ing ini­tia­tive aimed at sav­ing £500,000, with this likely to take place next Au­tumn.

The Eastleigh build­ing will be re­fur­bished to pro­vide flex­i­ble ac­com­mo­da­tion while Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary’s op­er­a­tional HQ will re­main in Winch­ester, but will move from its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in West Hill to a smaller build­ing in Mot­t­is­font Court.

It mir­rors co-lo­ca­tion moves in Farn­bor­ough, where neigh­bour­hood of­fi­cers have been based in Rush­moor Bor­ough Coun­cil’s of­fices in Farn­bor­ough Road since the town’s po­lice sta­tion closed last Novem­ber. In Alder­shot the li­brary or the old town hall are be­ing ear­marked for a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment to al­low the town’s own sta­tion to be sold off.

Over the past two years the fire and po­lice ser­vices have suc­cess­fully co-lo­cated po­lice of­fi­cers and staff into shared fa­cil­i­ties within HFRS build­ings, such as at Red­bridge, Al­res­ford and Stock­bridge fire sta­tions.

The lat­est an­nounce­ment – the first of its kind in the coun­try – are part of po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner Si­mon Hayes’ ef­forts to in­crease in­te­gra­tion and shar­ing of fa­cil­i­ties with key part­ners.

He said: “It is only by in­vest­ing in joint-work­ing ini­tia­tives such as this that I will be able to pro­tect peo­ple and places lo­cally while en­sur­ing that the po­lice’s es­tate is cost­ef­fec­tive and fit for pur­pose de­spite sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic chal­lenges.”

Hamp­shire Fire Au­thor­ity is seek­ing to ad­dress a £12 mil­lion fi­nan­cial gap over the next five years and the move is viewed as a way of fill­ing un­der-utilised build­ings and pro­tect­ing jobs.

Both or­gan­i­sa­tions have sub­mit­ted bids for govern­ment fund­ing to make the col­lab­o­ra­tion hap­pen. Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary heard last week that it had been suc­cess­ful in gain­ing around £1 mil­lion from the Home Of­fice’s Po­lice In­no­va­tion Fund.

It comes as Mr Hayes has warned that any fur­ther cuts to the force’s bud­get could put mem­bers of the pub­lic at risk.

A re­port by Her Majesty’s In­spec­torate of Con­stab­u­lary (HMIC) re­vealed last week that Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary is on track to achieve its tar­get of £52.9 mil­lion of sav­ings, but three quar­ters of that will be made through re­duc­ing its work­force.

The re­port was pro­duced to show how po­lice forces have coped with the govern­ment’s plans, an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2010 to re­duce bud­gets by 20% in the four years up to March 2015 and praised Hamp­shire for its for­ward plan­ning which has en­sured it is on track to achieve its sav­ings tar­get.

Mr Hayes said it was ‘re­as­sur­ing’ that HMIC had judged Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary to be a strong fi­nan­cial po­si­tion, but warned: “The re­al­ity is that by 2017 the con­stab­u­lary will have had £80 mil­lion of cuts im­posed on it.

“The most re­cent cuts of £25 mil­lion by 2017 will re­sult in los­ing in the re­gion of 500 staff and of­fi­cers.

“These are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing times for the force and have meant an ex­ten­sive re­view of how polic­ing is de­liv­ered.

“Go­ing for­ward I ques­tion the ex­tent to which more sav­ings can be made through a fu­ture spend­ing re­view be­fore the qual­ity of ser­vice is sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected and pub­lic safety is put at risk.”

Sta­tion Man­ager Rob Del­low, Deputy Chief Con­sta­ble Craig Den­holm, Chair­man of the Hamp­shire Fire Au­thor­ity Roys­ton Smith, PCC Si­mon Hayes, Chief Of­fi­cer John Bon­ney and PC Jes­sica Wilkins out­side the fire ser­vice’s Eastleigh HQ which will be shared by Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary.

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