One-stop cop shop on our doorstep?

The reduction of facilities at Hemel Hempstead’s police station could be consigned to history thanks to plans for a new purpose-built unit to house the force.

Wednesday, 1st April 2015, 9:45 am
Police and crime commissioner David Lloyd, incumbent MP for Hemel Hempstead Mike Penning and Dacorum Borough Council leader Andrew Williams at the site of the proposed policing hub near the M1

The current Combe Street cop shop has suffered from custody suite and front-desk closures over the years, and while it remains an operational station, it is soon to be incorporated into the new public service quarter build combining council, library and police services along Marlowes.

While the proposal is in the very early stages, the prospect of using former council-owned land opposite Breakspear House and the entrance to the M1 for a policing facility was discussed by Dacorum Borough Council’s Cabinet at a meeting last week.

The idea has been slowed down by delays in the approval of The Forum public service quarter building, but now those plans are being put in motion, it is hoped a dedicated police unit on the outskirts of the town will benefit from motorway connections and possibly allow for cross-force and multi-service working.

If built, the hub could feature custody units as well as allow for more interaction between the police and public and other public sector agencies than is possible currently.

Herts’ police and crime commissioner, David Lloyd, who lives in the Dacorum village of Flamstead, said: “We are now committed to the next stage of the reprovision of the police site.

“We have clearly got to work through some of the issues about how we get the services there but this is a clear statement of intent that we are developing a site in Hemel, and it is great news for the whole county.

“This comes as part of the commitment I have made to ensure we get the correct police station coverage across the county.

“We have got a long way to go in terms of signing anything off, but we have moved a long way down the line from where we started two years ago.

“While we will have a presence in The Forum, this will be a unit with the full functions of a larger police station.

“We may well be working with other agencies on the site and I would want to encourage that.

“I am ambitious for the site and will make sure we find the most cost-effective way of putting as many different services in the site as possible.”

The Commissioner added that Hemel Hempstead and the whole of Hertfordshire are among the safest places to live in the country, and that the new unit would help it to remain so.

He added: “Clearly we need to think about what our long-term provision of different types of police stations is across the whole of the county. I keep on trying to work closely with councils in each of the areas so that, through partnering, we can have more of these ‘one-stop shops’.

“It is part of my long-term strategy to ensure every single borough or district has adequate frontline policing, neighbourhood policing and intervention policing.

“It is possible because of the work we have already been doing around collaboration and sensible use of budgets.”

Incumbent MP for the town Mike Penning, who is fighting to retain his seat in next month’s General Election, has worked on the plans behind the scenes and is welcoming the prospect of a new facility – which could take up as much as nine square acres and four floors – for policing on the town’s doorstep.

He said: “This has happened because of collaboration between different forces, agencies and the other emergency services thanks to the forethought of David Lloyd and Herts chief constable Andy Bliss – this is exactly the way things should be going.

“It will bring more jobs and even more belief and investment in the town.

“Does Hemel need a big police station? No, it doesn’t, because crime is low. But I would very much like to see a joint service run on the site, and the key for me is to see a police station with custody facilities, which is what I have campaigned for ever since ours were closed.”

No formal plans have yet been drawn and Herts Police, which would fund the project, continue to work with the borough council on decisions surrounding the site.