FEARS are growing over the future of Harrogate’s National Police Training College, a major employer in the town which works with more than 1,200 officers every year, ahead of an announcement expected later this month.
The centre, one of just a handful in the country, has been based in the spa town since the 1950s.
It is run by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), one of around 180 quangos facing the Government axe – 10 of which are in Yorkshire – and despite being awarded planning permission for a £25m expansion in 2002, the work has never got off the ground. The Government says it is still looking at which NPIA functions are still needed, and how to streamline its work best.
But ahead of an announcement by Home Secretary Theresa May in the coming weeks, it is feared its fate has already been sealed.
Coun Jim Clark, cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development at Harrogate Council, said: “We are very worried that it is going to be closed down.
“The college is a major employer and this will have a big impact on the town.
“In 2002, planning permission was given to the college for a £25m expansion which would have created 200 jobs and we worked with residents to get the proposals considerably revised. Obviously the NPIA are not going to go ahead with that expansion now and residents are concerned about the site.”
Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, raised the future of the college at a meeting with the Home Secretary last week.
“I certainly understand people’s concerns over this”, he said.
“I recognise that the economic landscape is very challenging for everybody in the current climate.
“The Government is working to complete this review as quickly as possible.
“In terms of timing I have been told it will take a couple of weeks.”
The Harrogate college, located in a large Victorian house on Yew Tree Lane, is one of 11 scattered about the country and just two across the whole of the north.
It is devoted to teaching police personnel to become trainers and more than 1,200 officers and course delegates are trained on the site every year.
There are currently 184 staff employed at the Harrogate site, 32 of which provide outsourced work.
The NPIA was formed in April 2007 to improve public safety through critical services for police forces, such as the national fingerprint and DNA databases, and providing professional expertise.
A Government consultation document published last year, condenses the priorities for the NPIA into two - cost effectiveness, helping to deliver savings of more than £1 billion through improved IT and better procurement and planning by forces by March 2015, and its critical national services.
An NPIA spokesman said: “The Coalition has concluded that the NPIA should be phased out by March 2012. It is looking at which NPIA functions are still needed, and how these functions might best be delivered in a new, streamlined landscape.
“The police service relies upon the NPIA to deliver critical national services that directly support the front line. Our priority is to continue to provide this important infrastructure and establish ways of helping the police service to save more than £1bn by 2015.”