Public talks are under way on plans for North Yorkshire Police’s new multi-million pound police headquarters and custody suite, the county’s crime commissioner has revealed.
Two sites near the market town of Thirsk have been identified as possible locations for North Yorkshire’s new multi-million pound police headquarters and custody suite.
An announcement about the recommended site for North Yorkshire Police’s Northern Base, replacing the current HQ at the Grade II listed Newby Wiske Hall, near Northallerton, will be made in September. But ahead of a decision being made the public are being urged to take part in a survey.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, has started a short consultation with local communities.
She said: “Newby Wiske will be costing North Yorkshire taxpayers over £1m per year to maintain over the next 17 years. These proposals are about improving the service we can offer the public of North Yorkshire – prioritising Bobbies over buildings.
“What’s more, an initial top level review concluded that by combining new custody facilities for the north of the county with a new HQ we may be able to improve services and save money in the longer term.
“We will therefore be focussing on the area around Northallerton and Thirsk as a potential location for a new police headquarters facility.
“The views of the affected communities will help inform some of the decisions surrounding the new Northern Base so I hope all those interested will visit my website, or the North Yorkshire Police website, and let me know their views,” Mrs Mulligan added.
Those wanting to take part in the survey should visit www.northyorkshire.police.uk/northernbasesurvey
In March, Mrs Mulligan launched a £150,000 study examining the commercial, financial and economic implications and feasibility of the proposals. An initial review found the Newby Wiske site was “far from ideal” despite work to improve it and the security of the site is difficult to manage due to the size, location and cost of securing the boundary.
It described the 18th century police station and northern custody suite in Northallerton as “not fit for purpose” and said it does not provide the standard and type of facilities the force needs.
Speaking at a meeting of the county’s police and crime panel, last month, Mrs Mulligan said she hoped the new building would be finished by December 2016.
The proposal to close the current HQ at Newby Wiske was one of Mrs Mulligan’s key election pledges.
She told the meeting that two potential sites in Thirsk were thought to “meet operational requirements” and that the location had been chosen because of the proximity to the road network.
She said: “We have looked at buildings that are already in existence, that might have been able to support what we need. Unfortunately there really aren’t any that support what we need because of the requirements for custody.”
However the plan to move the headquarters away from Northallerton have met with some criticism.
Mick Griffiths, the deputy leader of Richmondshire Council, said earlier that he fears officers dealing with disorder in his district may be reluctant to make arrests because of the amount of time it would take to travel some 30 miles to get to the new custody suite.
He urged as many people as possible to take part in the consultation.
Coun Griffiths said: “My personal view is that you will have some issues, the same furore and the same concern. The people of Northallerton will lose a police station. Thirsk is a long way from Richmond. What if you have a prisoner who is suffering from the effects of alcohol and stick them in a cage and drive all the way to Thirsk, that is a hell of a way, where is the duty of care to the arrested person?
“I know this was a great concern to the people of Richmond at the time, I have no doubt it will be again and it is absolutely essential that anyone who is concerned make it known before the end of the consultation.”