WORK on building a ‘sorely needed’ central police hub in the city is under way.
A sod-cutting ceremony for the new Eastern Police Investigation Centre (PIC) took place yesterday to mark the beginning of construction on the £18m project.
The new hub will be built on the Merlin Park development, off Airport Service Road in Copnor and will replace Fratton & Portsmouth Central stations.
Portsmouth City Council granted the building planning permission in June following months of delays on the project as the city was scoured for the ‘perfect site’ for the development.
The building was proposed to be open to the public in April 2016.
Michael Lane, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner said he was ‘delighted’ to reach a ‘landmark moment’ for the project. We were determined to bring forward this project as it is so necessary for the community.
‘To get to this point, we had to make sure that it was the perfect site, that we had the right people on board and that everything was in place, before we said yes.
‘It also ensures the future of policing within Portsmouth’s community.’
The building will house 350 investigators, staff and other times across the 2.9-acre site.
It will not be seen as a ‘police station’ but will have a reception for any enquiries from members of the public.
Chief constable of Hampshire Constabulary Olivia Pinkney said: ‘Portsmouth is a important area for us. However, we need an estate of police buildings that works for the 21st century.
‘Both Fratton and Portsmouth Central are out-of-date in terms of the quality of facilities and with the way that way we communicate as a police force.
‘This PIC is sorely needed for our officers in the city. We always wanted it to be in Portsmouth. It is also easy access for the public and in terms of getting around the island and the wider area, it will work really well for our needs.’
Councillor Ryan Brent, the city council’s representative on Hampshire’s Police and Crime Panel, said: ‘It is great Portsmouth was chosen as the location for the new PIC.
‘This is the right spot for it as it is easy for people to get on and off the island and it will increase the presence of the police in the community which is something that residents will be happy about.’
The new PIC is expected to open to the public in spring 2019.