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Private firms to take on construction of new police stations

By This is Bristol  |  Posted: June 09, 2012

Avon and Somerset Police

Avon and Somerset Police

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The trickledown effect of an £80 million investment in new police stations serving the region will be felt next week when construction firms get the chance to win contracts to build the sites and maintain them for 25 years.

The major PFI project, which will see three police custody suites built for Avon and Somerset Police in Patchway in Bristol, Keynsham, and Bridgewater as well as a training centre for three of the firearms units with the region’s other constabularies, will mean a major boost to the economy across Somerset and Bristol.

A “meet the buyer” event took place last month in Bridgwater and another is planned in Bristol on Wednesday, with subcontractors getting the chance to secure valuable work.

Police chiefs are keen that the capital investment – which comes as revenue budgets are squeezed – will provide a boost to the local economy.

“We are committed to investing in the local economies that we serve, especially in times like these,” said Julian Kern, the programme sponsor from Avon and Somerset police. “We want to encourage local subcontractors who have experience of working on medium-large projects, to come and find out more about the opportunities,” he added.

The project has been valued at £80 million, but police chiefs say they are keen to spend much less than that on the four different sites.

A link-up of private firms, who have joined together to form the Blue Light Consortium, will take on four projects. The project will create a new indoor firearms training centre for Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire forces at a quarry near Portishead.

It will also centralise Avon and Somerset’s custody suites – places where arrested people are held in cells – from ten all over the two counties to just three, in Patchway, Bridgwater and Keynsham.

“It’s something other forces, like Wiltshire, have done a while ago, but the idea is that we centralise the teams investigating crime as well as the custody centres too,” said a force spokeswoman.

Kevin Dickson of Miller Construction, one of the major partners in the PFI consortium, said: “We are pleased to be able to welcome local subcontractors to our third “meet the buyer” event, who have an interest in working with us on the Avon and Somerset PFI Project.

“Last month’s event in Bridgwater was a huge success and we would like to thank everyone who attended and registered their interest with us.

“The open days are providing us with the opportunity to meet with potential local sub-contractors who will work with us to deliver the four contracts within this project, which is proving to be a worthwhile experience. Attendance at the events has been high as has the calibre of companies we have met to date. We look forward to welcoming sub-contractors from the area that we are still to meet,” he added.

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  • IanSW  |  June 12 2012, 1:38PM

    Rogerh3 - ".... it seems a bit odd to place the third custody suite in Keynsham (pop. 15,000) rather than Bath (pop. 85,000)." Probably because whoever submitted the planning application knew any proposed construction in Bath would be blocked/delayed/refused etc

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  • Stagnate  |  June 12 2012, 12:41PM

    The news item has mention of Wiltshire as an example but Wiltshire has a combined control room that has the Police, Fire and Ambulance under one roof. A similar PFI funded facility in Somerset is sitting empty, but still attracting rental payments, whilst the three services argue amongst themselves. There is no mention of Yeovil custody remaining open being one of the ten that is due to be closed once the three custody units are completed. As for civilian custody staff taking over the booking in. All well and good but Officers will still have to travel further in many cases before they can hand responsibility over to Detention Officers. Which brings up another point. At present you have ten sets of Detention Officers around the Force area. Once the Custody units are reduced to three, albeit with greater capacity, what will happen to DOs in places like Staple Hill, Bath and Taunton? Will they be expected to relocate as happened with the Control Room staff in Taunton. Staff from Taunton were moved from Taunton to Portishead or faced redundancy - which the majority took. Is the same going to be the case with Detention Officers?

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  • Towngas  |  June 12 2012, 9:43AM

    @Stagnate. All very true I'm afraid, however I believe Yeovil will remain as a Custody centre due to its location. As for officers being tied up for longer, I believe the plan is to have civilians process the arrested persons once in custody, so the officer can return to the streets. The result over time will surely be less officers. This is the future for policing, as the government has clearly decided that it is too expensive in its current form. After all, they have Europe to prop up, to say nothing of the billions they send abroad in aid each year.

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  • Towngas  |  June 12 2012, 9:43AM

    @Stagnate. All very true I'm afraid, however I believe Yeovil will remain as a Custody centre due to its location. As for officers being tied up for longer, I believe the plan is to have civilians process the arrested persons once in custody, so the officer can return to the streets. The result over time will surely be less officers. This is the future for policing, as the government has clearly decided that it is too expensive in its current form. After all, they have Europe to prop up, to say nothing of the billions they send abroad in aid each year.

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  • Stagnate  |  June 11 2012, 11:12AM

    Fine in concept but loses in the translation. Three centralised custody suites which will mean that those arrested may have to travel farther from point of arrest to a custody suite which, in turn, will mean that the arresting Officers are off the streets for longer and so reducing the already sparse Police cover even further. The A&S have already rationalised on cell space by not bringing cell blocks up to a required standard, Bridewell, Filton and Thornbury being just three examples, so with the completion of these new units it would mean that the cell units at Broadbury Road, Trinity Street, Southmead and Staple Hill together with units in Yeovil, Taunton and Bridgwater would also be closed. Without cell units, would that mean that some time in the not too distant future these stations would be downgraded and eventually closed. As regards to the comment by 'Artglad', I can only assume that his/her relationship with the Police is not a happy one.

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  • Towngas  |  June 11 2012, 7:48AM

    @Atrglad. How can you sit in a car slowly?, or how can you gobble down food slowly? Some clarification required I think.

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  • artglad  |  June 11 2012, 2:39AM

    Why should we need new police stations? I thought that Bristol south police station is based at the Mac Donalds drive in on Sheen lane, or are they just getting paid for gobbling down fast food sat in their cars, slowly?

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  • rogerh3  |  June 10 2012, 3:58PM

    The Patchway one will presumably cater for Bristol and the Bridgwater one for the south of the Avon & Somerset area so it seems a bit odd to place the third custody suite in Keynsham (pop. 15,000) rather than Bath (pop. 85,000).

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  • Charlespk  |  June 10 2012, 10:30AM

    @MoeXXX Very worryingly; and assuming your mind set; I find myself in total total agreement with you Moe. . And also; quote:- "Ah, great, they'er going to build more police stations, to replace all the others they closed & sold off." IMO policing was never better than when each community had their own police officer (or 2) living among them with their own 'office'. . Obviously there will be difficulties now in certain inner city areas, but I believe it's this lack a visible and known local presence that has led to the present breakdown in respect for the police force. Why PFI!?? . . Why not just provide mortgages for a home + office space for police officers within each community, and 'kill two birds with one stone'. . With modern communications we don't need any more 'Ivory Towers' like Portishead; even 'mini' ones?

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  • nicknamehater  |  June 10 2012, 10:11AM

    Stagnate by and large I can find little fault with what you say, however the coalition has more problems than most governments usually have in that one small part of the government is pulling in the opposite way to the majority partner and seems to have an undue influence on what does or more likely does not get done. the only good thing you can say about the current government is that, it is not labour and does not have Ed Balls grubby little fingers on the finances.

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