DEDICATED police battling crime in Portsmouth are being provided with a ‘substandard’ working conditions.
That is the message from police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes who has apologised to officers over the state of Fratton station.
All of this has gone on longer than I anticipated. The consequence of that is that people who work for Hampshire Constabulary are functioning in substandard premises.Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes
Mr Hayes said he is still on the hunt for a suitable location to build a new state-of-the-art Police Investigation Centre.
But that means investigative staff, who have been moved from surrounding stations to Kingston Crescent, are working in poor premises.
Mr Hayes said he recently met staff and apologised.
He said: ‘All of this has gone on longer than I anticipated.
‘The consequence of that is that people who work for Hampshire Constabulary are functioning in substandard premises.
‘I apologised for that when I came down.’
He said landowners in the city seem to be charging higher prices – up to six-figure sums – but he wants to secure a good deal for land south of the M27.
If no land can be found then Mr Hayes said the estates strategy could have to go through a ‘rethink’.
Existing police sites are ‘too small’ and redevelopment of any of the stations would be a ‘last resort’, Mr Hayes said.
The PIC will contain custody suites and investigative officers. Neighbourhood teams will operate from council buildings.
The new building was originally meant to be in place by April 2016.
Hampshire Police Federation chairman, John Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers on the force, said he has been working with the estates department to vent officers’ frustrations.
He said: ‘I understand that estate management and development is not a quick fix. The problem is that progress has got to be made because the working conditions are not tenable.’
He added he has faith in the estates manager but there are frustrations among officers.
Councillor Donna Jones, city council leader, said the authority has proposed sites to the police.
She said: ‘Portsmouth has one of the major courts, with Fareham Magistrates’ Court currently in consultation to be closed down and already being on reduced working hours for the last 12 months.
‘It’s essential as a major court that Portsmouth has custody facilities close to the court.’
She added: ‘I’m hoping that a site will be found and secured within the boundary of the city.’
Mr Hayes launched an estates review in a bid to save cash as Home Office cuts bite into the force’s budget.
The force has to make £80m cuts by April 2017.
Hampshire Constabulary said it is in the process of making Fratton station a more ‘comfortable’ working environment.
A force statement said: ‘There are plans in place for officers working within the investigations team currently working at Fratton Police Station to move to a purpose-built police investigation centre (PIC).
‘We appreciate that the station is showing its age and is far from ideal, but we are taking steps to make it a more comfortable working environment in this transition period.’