Hampshire Constabualry will be moving 100 police officers and support staff into the Hampshire Fire and Rescue HQ on Leigh Rd and will share the facility with the fire and rescue service to form a new strategic police and fire service HQ, the first of its kind in the country.
The move which it is anticipated will save both services money is being partly funded by a grant of £1 million from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund.
The creation of new strategic police presence in the town should help reassure residents worried by the proposed closure of the Police Station and will help boost the town’s economy and status.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire Simon Hayes is responsible for the plan as part of his declared commitment to greater integration and sharing of facilities with key partners and has backing from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
The Leigh Road site occupies what was originally North End Secondary School is in an ideal location for the emergency services as it is located right next to the M3 with rapid transport access across the county.
The force’s operational HQ will remain in Winchester, at Mottisfont Court in the centre of Winchester.
Both organisations have committed to work together to reconfigure and refurbish the existing Leigh Road complex to provide flexible accommodation, which meets the requirements of a joint strategic headquarters function for fire and police.
The joint location offers the potential for a shared gold command facility, which could be utilised by either, and critically by both partners during a major incident.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, said:
“Collocating senior police officers and support staff from Hampshire Constabulary with Hampshire Fire and Rescue is key to the successful delivery of my policing estate strategy.
It is only by investing in joint-working initiatives such as this that I will be able to protect people and places locally while ensuring that the police’s estate is cost-effective and fit for purpose despite significant economic challenges.
I look forward to continuing the close working relationship with Hampshire Fire and Rescue into the future.”
Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, said:
“This is another example of how Hampshire’s emergency services are leading the way. We all have to be prepared to think differently if we are to maintain a high level of service to the public and make the savings we need to. Co-location at this HQ, sharing accommodation in the heart of communities, and a joined up approach to back office resource is all part of a bigger picture. We are prioritising the quality of our service to the public and frontline policing over expensive bricks and mortar.”
Hampshire Fire Authority Chairman, Royston Smith, said:
“As an authority, we have to address a £12 million financial gap over the next five years – this strategic estate partnership will increase occupancy rates of currently under utilised buildings and will enable us to protect jobs and the service we provide to the communities of Hampshire. It’s a real win-win situation both for us as organisations and for the public of Hampshire.’
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Dave Curry, said: ‘We are delighted to be in a position today to announce this exciting partnership development – and something which will put Hampshire’s emergency services at the forefront of joint working nationally. ‘This historic agreement is both a further culmination and demonstration of the very advanced partnership working relationship we have as the fire and police services here.’
Both services anticipate further efficiencies in effective command of multi-operational strategic incidents in due course once the new arrangements are operational and bedded in.
Timeframes are currently under discussion but it is anticipated that senior police officers can start moving into Eastleigh in the autumn of next year, although precise timeframes are to be agreed.