Police hub change could leave city without a station

Portsmouth Central police station could be sold
Portsmouth Central police station could be sold

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PORTSMOUTH could be left without a police station if plans go ahead for a major new hub to be built outside the city.

Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, has been hunting for land in Portsmouth for the new £18m police investigation centre (PIC).

But with land proving too expensive in the city and some sites unsuitable, his office is now considering Broadmarsh industrial estate, off Harts Farm Way, in Havant.

Mr Hayes has moved to reassure the public that police will still be present in Portsmouth. Response and neighbourhood teams will move to the Guildhall in the city centre.

But Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Portsmouth, said: ‘We need people to see police are present in the area.

‘The visibility is important – it would be very worrying.

‘I think Portsmouth not to have police presence would be a very bad idea.’

If built in Havant, the centre – which would house 400 police and have cells – would replace the city’s current stations.

Portsmouth Central and Fratton will be sold and Southsea will either remain open but refurbished, close or merge with the firefighters.

It comes after main police stations in Gosport and Fareham closed.

A superintendent district commander will still be based in the heart of the city in the Guildhall, along with neighbourhood and response teams.

A PIC is already established in Southampton and one is being built in Basingstoke.

Flick Drummond, Conservative Portsmouth South MP, said the news of a Havant site was disappointing.

She said: ‘I know they have been desperately looking for a site in Portsmouth and it’s disappointing they haven’t found somewhere.

‘I will do anything I can to facilitate them staying in Portsmouth.’

Mrs Drummond added that she has been speaking to Mr Hayes and will speak to the chief constable.

Currently, CID teams from Havant, Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth are based at Fratton station.

It is these teams which are set to move into the police investigation centre, which will also have custody cells.

Sites in Portsmouth are proving too expensive, Mr Hayes told The News, with any building now 18 to 24 months away.

He said: ‘My preferred site would have been somewhere off the M275 and we haven’t been able to secure a site there that’s affordable.

‘We’re still looking at Portsmouth sites, ideally I would want it to be south of the M27.

‘Whether we go to any of them or not will depend on whether we get planning permission,’ Mr Hayes said.

‘The traffic is part of planning permission so at the moment I wouldn’t want to get any community excited, frustrated or concerned about it.’

And John Apter, who represents rank-and-file police, has said with Home Office cuts it is a choice between officers and buildings.

Mr Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘Ten years ago I’d have fought to keep police stations.

‘It’s about what we want – buildings or people.

‘We are moving into an era where we’re not going to have police stations in every town. I think that’s really sad for the public but that’s the reality of what we’re faced with.’

The News has previously reported how Mr Hayes admitted Fratton police station was a ‘substandard premises’ for the 203 officers and 65 staff based at the Kingston Crescent building. Since then remedial work has been done to improve the situation while a location for a PIC is sought.