The drawn-out process of building a new Police Investigation Centre is at risk of becoming a protracted and unwelcome saga.
The overall plan is fairly sound.
Various police stations around the area are outdated and so the idea of replacing them with neighbourhood policing bases in the community – such as in libraries, fire stations and so on – was to be complemented with the Pic, which would be a dedicated building for detectives and would also house the custody cells.
While we can bemoan the loss of stations such as Southsea’s traditional and imposing brick building, as long there are officers available in the area for a face-to-face chat when needed there cannot be too many complaints about the changes.
Unless, of course, the construction of the Pic does not get off the ground – which rather blows a hole in the scheme.
There are already Pics in other parts of Hampshire, in Southampton and Basingstoke, with Portsmouth’s the final one for the county. There are also many across the country, in the east midlands and in East Anglia, for example. Whatever your views on it, it’s a recognised way of restructuring a police force.
But police and crime commissioner Michael Lane’s predecessor Simon Hayes should perhaps have found a definite site before committing the force to the changes. And perhaps the change in administration in May has not helped in keeping a focus on the project.
Whatever the reason, we agree with Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones that there are concerns over the project. There are only a limited number of places in Portsmouth – where the Pic should be built – that would be suitable. It should not take that long to establish whether any of them are feasible, and then if not the search should start for a site outside the city boundary but as near as possible.
It will be two years before the Pic is built anyway – it’s not fair on police officers that they should have to put up with the infamously substandard Fratton and central stations for much longer.