Yorkshire police training centre to close

MORE than 180 jobs have been thrown into jeopardy after it was announced that a specialist police training centre in Yorkshire will be closed down.

The National Police Training College in Harrogate, one of just a handful in the country, is to be shut as part of a massive cost-cutting exercise.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) confirmed yesterday that the base will be closed as it battles to slash its property costs by 50 per cent.

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There are 184 staff employed at the Harrogate site, which is devoted to teaching police personnel to become trainers, and a question mark now hangs over their jobs.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in February that the training college, which is a major employer in Harrogate and works with more than 1,200 officers every year, was faced with an uncertain future amid cost-cutting.

The local member for Harrogate Council, Jim Clark, who also sits on North Yorkshire County Council, has been one of the main campaigners to ensure the college remained in the spa town.

He confirmed yesterday that he will join forces with other council members to petition the Home Office in an attempt to get the decision reversed.

He said: “It is extremely disappointing, although not unexpected, and the closure of the college will have a major impact on Harrogate’s economy.

“I do feel this decision could be something of a false economy. At a time when there are going to be fewer police officers on the streets because of the cutbacks, it would seem sensible to keep these facilities open to ensure the best training possible.”

The NPIA, which itself is due to be phased out next year as part of the Government’s cuts, has been ordered to slash spending on its 11 sites from more than £20m to about £10m.

An NPIA spokesman maintained “all options” are being looked at which could see the training college potentially re-located to a new location in Harrogate.

No final decision has been made over when staff will leave the existing site, which is located in a large Victorian house on Yew Tree Lane.

The spokesman was adamant that the closure was driven by a need to cut property costs rather than wage bills, but he admitted no decision had been reached on whether redundancies would have to be made.

The NPIA has already reduced the number of employees from 2,174 in May last year to 1,636 on July 31 this year – a reduction of 25 per cent.

The NPIA’s chief executive, Nick Gargan, claimed it was “absolutely critical” to look at the best use of resources to pave the way for a new streamlined agency which will act as his organisation’s successor.