Police set to leave urban centres

OUT-of-town police stations will replace bases in the centres of Norwich, King's Lynn and Yarmouth as part of the force's latest bid to cut costs and modernise facilities.

OUT-of-town police stations will replace bases in the centres of Norwich, King's Lynn and Yarmouth as part of the force's latest bid to cut costs and modernise facilities.

Norfolk police has published its new estates strategy, which sets out the future of police stations across the county.

It includes plans to close down existing stations in urban centres and move the bulk of police work to cheaper locations. Smaller stations would be set-up near high streets to maintain police presence.

Members of the rank and file said they supported the principle of updating facilities, but said it was important for bosses to reassure the public and officers over their commitment to town centres.


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Malcolm Sneesby, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: “Some of our existing stations, for example Bethel Street [in Norwich], are woefully inadequate. They were built with a particular purpose in mind, but that has changed over the years and they are barely fit for the job.

“We wholeheartedly support any attempt to improve these facilities, although there may be some fine details about what goes where to be ironed out nearer the time.

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“My only concern is over to what extent we will keep a presence in Norwich city centre. I do not believe for one minute that the force will withdraw from the city centre completely, but we do need reassurance over exactly what provision there will be.”

The aim is to replace the stations in Bethel Street; St James Street, King's Lynn; and Howard Street North, Yarmouth, by 2012. This has been made possible by the ongoing construction of new custody suites, which will mean the force no longer needs existing cells in the traditional bases.

It is part of a county-wide replacement programme, which has already seen new stations built and others earmarked for redevelopment.

Chris Harding, chief executive of Norfolk Police Authority, said: “The new custody suites will give us a chance to consider what the police station of the future looks like.

“We will be looking to maintain a presence in the centres, for example an inquiry desk. But we will also be looking at what can be moved away from prime sites to other locations which provide better value for money.

“It is not our intention to remove facilities but, if anything, to improve them.”

He added that the force's recent restructuring - which included scrapping locally based command units for one central unit - had made the initiative possible.

Although local superintendants retain much control over how their areas are policed, many of the back-room functions have been moved to police headquarters at Wymondham.

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