THE future of Portsmouth’s police stations is in doubt as the force battles to save an extra £25m due to government spending cuts.
Plans for the four stations – Portsmouth Central, Fratton, Cosham and Southsea – will be consulted on as Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes pursues plans for a police investigation centre in the city.
As reported, Mr Hayes has said the new centre in Portsmouth would have four or five floors and about 30 cells.
It could be built in the next three years as part of the £40m plan for the force’s estates.
But the move could see existing police stations shut and local safer neighbourhoods teams move to more shared spaces such as libraries, council offices and fire stations in a bid to save cash.
Mr Hayes said: ‘We are looking to place teams in the best place to do our business.
‘That may mean we sell a police site in Portsmouth and reinvest that money somewhere else in Portsmouth.
‘We won’t be moving a police station or closing a police station until we have opened up somewhere else in the neighbourhood.
‘The future will be that people will be able to go into a public building, probably a Portsmouth City Council building or maybe a library or a fire station and have an interaction with the police there. We must have a front desk for people to go to. At the moment we haven’t got that.’
The force will already have saved £55m by April. Another £25m is needed to break even by April 2017.
Mr Hayes added: ‘We will relocate within Portsmouth. That doesn’t mean we are going to move out of Portsmouth at all.
‘That might mean that Portsmouth Central closes, that doesn’t mean we are no longer going to have a police presence in Portsmouth.
‘It’s a building that is difficult for us to operate in from a policing perspective, it needs to be refurbished, the front desk isn’t open and we want to have a facility where the public can come to us to do their business.
‘We are looking to complete the work within three years. This is very early days. We are looking to get it right for the next 20 or 25 years.’
POLICING IN HAMPSHIRE TO UNDERGO MAJOR CHANGES
HAMPSHIRE’S top police officer last month revealed plans to revamp the force.
The force will have saved £55m by April following cuts including 884 officer and staff posts, shutting stations and sharing some services with other forces.
But Chief Constable Andy Marsh told The News he would be ‘neglectful’ if he did not look at revamping operational policing to meet target of saving an extra £25m by April 2017. He has vowed to maintain Safer Neighbourhoods Teams.
Changes could see more posts axed and some calls resolved at the point of handling instead of officers being deployed. People calling about issues such as noise nuisance could be directed to other services.