Do not overthink where to put facilities for police

First published in Letters

WELCOME to Salisbury’s newest Police station, Bourne Hill. Well welcome if you know where and how to get in!

This is, of course, in hand but according to Inspector David Minty, Bourne Hill’s listed building status is causing some issues to navigate before suitable signage can be put in place.

It is interesting to note that the already over stretched facilities at Bourne Hill were considered suitable for housing the neighbourhood policing teams and the public protection unit on the basis that they would be in the same building as the Wiltshire Council staff that they regularly have cause to liaise with.

Coincidently Wiltshire Council’s housing support staff can now be found operating out of the depot at Churchfields Industrial estate, one presumes that a phone call away is adequate enough when they wish to liaise with colleagues.

Salisbury will soon boast of having three police stations; in addition to Bourne Hill there will be the campus at Five Rivers Leisure Centre with building expected to start this month and completion due for Autumn 2015, and somewhere, currently suggested to be the old engine shed site at Churchfields, will be a new custody suite, which will be built by the end of 2015 - not that any plans have been submitted yet, but there are historic concerns about highways issues and inefficient use of the land.

Also planned for the future is that the rapid response unit currently operating out of Amesbury will move to either Bourne Hill or the campus site.

Currently based at Amesbury Police station, this is where dangerous people sign on, which is expected to move to the police custody unit, once built.

Detainees who are being taken into custody are being taken to Melksham, with 15 newly recruited detention officers to do the driving once the police have arrested the individual concerned. It is predictable that a sizeable proportion of those expected to travel to Melksham to sign on as part of their bail conditions will simply fail to turn up and instead further stretch the thin blue line by forcing police officers to search them out, arrest them and hand them over to detention officers to transport them to Melksham.

I dare say the residents of Melksham are probably not enamoured with an enlarged criminal fraternity presumably trying to make their own way back home on the very restrictive transport connections.

At least there are assurances that people with mental health issues will be escorted back home or passed into the appropriate medical care.

It is interesting that with all this collaboration between Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council with its large land and buildings portfolio which in the first instance led to the speeded up exit from Wilton Road Police Station to make way for the University Technical College that it appears that nobody has given credence to the simple idea of using a single building with room to build a new custody suite within the Salisbury city area?

I appreciate the police have been making plans on the hoof ever since the short notice eviction process - at one point an idea floated included a new build police station in the Maltings development - but two things concern me most.

Is the Trowbridge mafia at Wiltshire Council now holding the police to ransom, blackmailed by default without alternative options being readily available?

Will the ever spiralling costs made by a snap decision to avoid a proper planned and seamless transition to a new site create further cuts either to backroom support staff or frontline policing expenditure?

Tom Corbin Labour parliamentary candidate, Salisbury constituency

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