Plans to move Northamptonshire Police out of its Wootton Hall headquarters have been announced by the county’s police and crime commissioner.
Adam Simmonds today announced the beginning of a public consultation on a proposal for the force to leave the Wootton Hall Park site in a so-called “phased exit” over the next two-and-a-half years.
A total of 600 staff is based at Wootton Hall, including the chief constable and his senior leadership team. The force control room is also currently based on the site.
No alternative site for a headquarters has been identified, although the commissioner’s revised Estates Strategy Document, also published today, proposes the construction of a new Police Investigation Centre (PIC), off the A6003 on the outskirts of Kettering.
Mr Simmonds is also due to make a decision in March on a further building adjacent to the PIC, which could be used to house administration staff from Wootton Hall.
The commissioner said he believed the plan could help save the force £40 million over the next 25 years, with any money received for the sale of Wootton Hall invested back into frontline policing.
He said: “Although the intention to leave the established Northamptonshire Police Headquarters at Wootton Hall may appear controversial to some, it has been a very straightforward decision – due to new policing models and ways of working it is simply not cost effective for Northamptonshire Police to remain at the current site.
“The move away from Wootton Hall will see us consider multiple locations for a number of smaller bases, meaning the force can be more visible, contactable and mobile to residents of the whole of Northamptonshire, not just those in the immediate vicinity of the current site.
“The Chief Constable and I are both equally committed to delivering a cost-effective, first-class police service for Northamptonshire, where we see a more agile, flexible and visible policing presence.”
Simon Edens, chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, said he was also not satisfied that all the force’s current buildings were fit for purpose.
He said: “Policing is changing, and it is likely to keep changing, at a faster pace, in the future. Northamptonshire Police needs the right type of accommodation, in the right places, to allow us to meet current and future needs so we can continue to protect people from harm and serve our communities.
“I welcome the chance to contribute to the consultation and provide him with my professional advice on the force’s operational requirements.”
Public consultation on the strategy will begin today at both strategy and estatesstrategy and end at midnight on February 7, 2016, after which a final decision will be made on adoption of the proposed plans.
Alternatively, members of the public can take part in the consultation by contacting the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on 01604 888113 to request the relevant documentation.
Mr Simmonds said the proposal to leave Wootton Hall had been put forward following an extensive appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages of Northamptonshire Police remaining at the current headquarters, which has taken into consideration on-going financial constraints, the implications of new modern ways of working and the integration of back office services with other forces and emergency services.
Proposals for the future of the Wootton Hall Park site – which is jointly owned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire County Council – include the sale of part of the site that includes the buildings which currently comprise part of the Police Headquarters to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for the creation of a new school.
Mr Simmonds said that, if following the consultation process the proposals are acted upon, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the county council have agreed to work together to bring jointly forward the wider site for development. Although, no final decision has yet been made on the site’s future.
The commissioner said he was also planning to talk to his counterparts in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire about a future location for the force’s control room as part of their commitment to a strategic alliance, that will also affect estates decisions.