Hampshire Police To Sell Unused New HQ

After spending more than £11 million on a headquarters it has never used, Hampshire Police has announced it will sell the site.

Alpha Park has been empty for five years. Hampshire Constabulary will put it up for sale because it cannot afford to develop it and is unlikely to recoup the money it paid.

The building in Eastleigh was bought in 2008 at the height of the property boom for £9.6 million and the force has since spent an extra £1.836 million on upkeep, security, business rates and failed plans to turn it into an HQ for its 3,400 officers.

In 2010, chief constable Alex Marshall, who is now head of the College of Policing but was not in charge when the building was bought, was warned that the force could not afford the bill to refurbish the site that could have topped £40 million.

The issue was called "expensive and embarrassing" by the local police federation last year, but the force said the purchase of Alpha Park had the green light from the Audit Commission.

Hampshire Constabulary also announced it willsell its current headquarters in Winchester and move into a smaller building in the city it has bought for £1.5 million as it grapples with Government funding cuts of 20% over four years until 2015. That move is expected to land it with a cash windfall as the former HQ is ripe for development.

The force is also trying to save £4 million of taxpayers' money per year by sharing central services like finance and procurement with Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

This year it put its share of council tax up 3.4%.

The situation has been inherited by police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes who said:

"Today is about a new direction and building the right foundations for the future.

"That means getting rid of back office buildings that we don't need and investing in new facilities and partnerships that will help us to make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safer places.

"We will announce more when we have greater clarity on public finances and as the Chief Constable develops his operational plans but we now have certainty on the big decisions that will allow us to get rid of unnecessary buildings that cost the public money."

The force also announced it would build two new police investigation centres (PICs) in Basingstoke and Portsmouth to provide short-term custodial care and support quicker processing of detainees

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said:

"Having the right buildings is key to a more effective and efficient police force - one that puts victims, witnesses and the community at the heart of policing.

"This will help to meet the needs of police officers and staff for generations to come, reducing long-term costs and enabling us to build on the success that we have had in reducing crime in recent years."

The new plan includes:
- downsizing the current police HQ to a smaller HQ at Mottisfont Court in Winchester
- selling the Alpha Park site
- building two new Police Investigation Centres (PICs) in Basingstoke and Portsmouth to provide short term custodial care and support quicker processing of detainees
- building on successful partnerships with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and local councils enabling officers and staff to work from alternative locations such as at libraries and fire stations
- progressing with a programme of engagement with local people, to discuss moving Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs) into the heart of the communities they serve.