Hampshire police makes £48m selling off police stations

A CGI of the Eastern Police Investigation Centre, due to be built at Merlin Park on Airport Service Road, Copnor, Portsmouth
A CGI of the Eastern Police Investigation Centre, due to be built at Merlin Park on Airport Service Road, Copnor, Portsmouth

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SALES of police stations will make the county’s force £48m, a report reveals.

A watchdog found Hampshire police has already made £33m from selling off its estate, with an extra £15m coming by March.

The report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) looked at the force’s efficiency, including its leadership – and not specifically the sale of stations from its estate.

As reported, a new major police hub – a police investigation centre – is due to be built in Airport Service Road off Eastern Road. That will see the closure of Fratton, Fareham and Portsmouth Central police stations, with Southsea already shut.

Overall HMICFRS rated the force as good, the same rating last year.

The report also found

n 95 per cent of calls to 101 are answered in under a minute.

n The force has axed £82m from its budget between 2010/11 and 2017/18 but needs to cut more.

n It has among the lowest rate of 999 calls at grade one – but the highest for grade two.

n Victims of crime where there is ‘no risk’ or no ‘immediate investigative leads’ are referred to the telephone-based resolution centre, and wait longer for contact with an officer.

n A £27m new contact system will save the force £2m a year, with people being able to contact it online.

The force is facing a £9m shortfall in funding in 2018/19, which increases to £16m in 2019/20, and to £23m in 2020/21, the report found.

It adds the force has ‘achievable’ plans to save £10m over three years.

Zoe Billingham, from HMICFRS, said: ‘The force faces a significant challenge in finding further savings after 2019/20 while maintaining its impressive operational response.

‘I am confident the chief constable and her team will, within the budget constraints the constabulary faces, continue to develop innovative plans for ensuring that the public of Hampshire receive the best possible policing service in the future.’

She added: ‘I am pleased that Hampshire Constabulary has performed well across the board in our efficiency inspection, achieving a good grading in all the areas we looked at.

‘The force has a good understanding of demand for its services based on systematic analysis of comprehensive data from a wide range of sources.’

She praised collaborations with Thames Valley Police, which includes the contact system and joint operations unit, which in turn includes the roads policing team.

Deputy chief constable Sara Glen said: ‘We are pleased that the inspection recognised that while we operate in a challenging financial climate, our resourcing decisions are “sensible and intelligent” and that we work continually to ensure that we deliver the best possible policing service to our communities and that our officers and staff are focused and motivated.’

She added: ‘I echo the inspector’s assessment though, that we face significant funding challenges going forward. From the value for money profile we can see that based on our population and crime rate, Hampshire Constabulary is still £44.8m underfunded against a current annual budget of £300m.

‘We are a very low cost force that continually seeks ways to be as efficient as possible, but as we have previously outlined, the budget constraints we face are very stark.’

The force was rated good in understanding demand, use of resources and planning for the future.