NORTH Yorkshire Police are considering merging a number of key services with neighbouring Cleveland months after announcing that the two forces would share a new ‘community hub’.
Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan says the force is looking at collaborating with Cleveland in specialist areas such as cyber crime, major investigations, firearms licensing and professional standards, as well as the command structure responsible for policing major events.
This summer she scrapped plans to build a multi-million pound Northern Base for the county’s force near the A1 at South Kilvington in favour of sharing a new site at Hemlington, on the border with the Cleveland policing area.
The rejected scheme, which would have seen Northallerton police station closed and its custody facility moved to the new proposed HQ, attracted strong opposition from local residents.
Mrs Mulligan yesterday said the change in plans would save millions of pounds, but was told by a councillor that the £620,000 already on spent on the project before it was axed was seen as a “waste of money”.
At a meeting of North Yorkshire’s police and crime panel, she revealed more details about how the two forces would collaborate and how her force would restructure to cope with future budget cuts.
A data centre storing the force’s electronic records will be built at Hemlington, near Middlesbrough. It is currently at North Yorkshire’s Grade II listed Newby Wiske HQ, which is due to be sold
As part of a “fundamental review” of its estate, the force plans to reduce the number of buildings it uses, but will upgrade its police cells at Northallerton police station in a bid to keep it open for a further ten years.
Mrs Mulligan said: “It is people that deliver policing, not buildings, we need to make sure our investment goes to the people delivering the services, and we need to reduce the cost of our estate.”
She added: “All public sector services are operating in difficult financial circumstances. All the indications from Government and elsewhere are that the financial circumstances are not going to get any easier post the election and the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
“It is quite clear that to continue as we are, if those savings that we think are coming down the line do come down the line, and we are pretty certain they will, we are going to have to look at the way services are delivered in North Yorkshire.”
Mrs Mulligan said the ‘game-changers’ that prompted the decision to scrap the Northern Base were the opportunity to share with Cleveland that emerged in July, and modelling work done on the need for custody services.
But speaking about the £620,000 that had already been spent, panel chairman Carl Les told her: “There is the perception in the community that there has been a waste of money. You have justified why you have spent it but the perception is still there.”
Controversial plans to build new purpose-built headquarters for Harrogate Borough Council have been backed by councillors.
Following the decision on Wednesday evening officers will now draw-up detailed plans and seek quotes to build a new headquarters at its Knapping Mount site. A report will also look at marketing its existing offices which will be left empty if the move goes ahead.