Police on the Isle of Wight remain committed to maintaining a visible active presence with officers in every neighbourhood to keep crime down.
Work is continuing to identify possible alternative bases for local officers if new proposals to close three of the island’s current police stations go ahead.
Dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods teams exist to serve in the heart of the communities where they’re based, and where they’re accessible to the public.
Cowes, Yarmouth and Ventnor on the Isle of Wight are among 18 stations identified for potential closure in Hampshire Constabulary’s estates review.
This year-long review has looked at all the buildings Hampshire Police Authority currently owns or leases, and how they are used by the force and by the public.
The purpose of the estates review is to develop and modernise our facilities and services for staff and the communities they serve.
At the same time, due to a reduction in the force’s budget, Hampshire Constabulary must make savings of between £40million and £50m by 2015, with the majority of the money having to be found in the first two years.
The money achieved through selling some of our buildings would be reinvested in building new custody centres and refurbishing some of our bigger stations.
Proposal to the Police Authority
The findings and recommendations of the estates review were presented to Hampshire Police Authority members on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 for them to consider. The Police Authority is due to announce its decision at a meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2011.
Reasons for recommendations
The estate review identifies a number of buildings, including police stations, which are earmarked for sale. Some of these locations are not fit for modern policing purposes, others are not cost efficient.
Other reasons that influenced recommendations for whether a building should be kept or sold include:
- The condition of a building
- The value of the building and land
- The space provided and required by police officers/staff
Police buildings recommended to stay on the Isle of Wight
The estates review recommends that the police stations in Newport, Ryde and Shanklin are kept by Hampshire Constabulary and remain open.
The police building in Langley Court, Pyle Street, Newport is recommended to be retained. This building is the workplace for police staff in the Isle of Wight Incident Management Unit (IMU) and the Criminal Justice Unit (CJU). This building is not open to the public.
Police buildings identified for sale on the Isle of Wight
? Cowes Police Station
This station in Birmingham Road in Cowes is the main base for the town’s local Safer Neighbourhoods team, and the Isle of Wight police Operations team, which is responsible for emergency planning, co-ordinating multi-agency responses to major incidents, and policing for the island’s summer events, including the Isle of Wight Festival, Cowes Week and the Bestival.
The front office for members of the public was closed temporarily from Friday, April 1, 2011. Public opening hours were reviewed when the full-time Station enquiry officer (SEO) at Cowes was granted voluntary redundancy as part of Hampshire Constabulary’s ongoing Force Change reviews.
A review of the front office service, separate to the estates review, is currently ongoing, with a view to reducing the number of front counters to one per district. This review is due to be completed later in 2011.
Protecting police officer numbers in Cowes
A new full-time police officer has been recruited to the Cowes Safer Neighbourhoods team in time for the town’s busy summer period to ensure overall policing numbers are not reduced.
Another Cowes officer has increased her working hours from 30 to 40 hours per week with effect from Friday, April 1, 2011. Cowes will therefore have an additional 10 police officer hours per week.
Further additions to the team are two officers on temporary attachments from the island’s Targeted Patrol teams (TPT) during June 2011. They are on visible patrol in the town, also enhancing our service to the community.
? Yarmouth Police Station
This station in Yarmouth High Street is the main base for the West Wight and Rural West Safer Neighbourhoods teams. Yarmouth Town Council also has an office on the ground floor. Yarmouth does not have a front office that is open to the public.
? Ventnor Police Station
This station in Hambrough Road in Ventnor is the main base for the South Wight Safer Neighbourhoods team. Ventnor does not have a front office that is open to the public.
Other police buildings affected on the Isle of Wight
? The East Cowes Safer Neighbourhoods office
This office, opposite the floating bridge in East Cowes, is a base for the East Cowes Safer Neighbourhoods team. The building does not have a front office that is open to the public. This building will be reviewed after the Police Authority meeting on June 23.
? Mill Hill Road in Cowes.
This building, which is next door to Cowes Police Station, is already vacant and has been recommended for sale.
? Vulnerable Witness Interview (VWI) suites at Newport and Ventnor.
These buildings will be reviewed after the Police Authority meeting on June 23.
New custody centre for the Isle of Wight
? The estates review recommends the design and construction of a new custody centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight. This project will be the subject of a separate report to the Police Authority at a later date.
Isle of Wight Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector Terry Clawson said: “We know there will be concern in the community about the proposal to close three police stations on the island. However, an important part of this review recommends that our local Safer Neighbourhoods teams remain at the heart of the communities in which they work and where they’re accessible to the public.
Protecting officer numbers
“Hampshire and Isle of Wight Chief Constable Alex Marshall is maintaining his commitment to protecting local policing as far as possible through to 2015. We want to maintain the number of officers on the beat during a time of unprecedented budget challenges. In order to do this, we must make tough decisions in other areas of the police’s business.
“Some buildings owned or leased by us are not fit for modern policing, others are not cost efficient. By selling some of our inefficient buildings, we can make some of the savings we have to make as a result of our reduced budget, and reinvest in developing other buildings.
“If these proposals are approved by the Police Authority on June 23, the changes won’t happen overnight, but instead would take place over a number of years. We would own or lease fewer buildings and improve the service from local policing teams to the community.”
Mobile data for officers on patrol
The Isle of Wight has entered a new era of policing with the roll-out of mobile data. With the purchase of more than 160 Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) agreed by Hampshire Police Authority, the new equipment has started to be fitted to the police vehicle fleet, of which 10 per cent will be on the island.
In support of Chief Constable Alex Marshall’s pledge to make the best use of the force’s resources, the island was the first policing area within the two counties where all uniformed officers will have access to mobile data, via BlackBerry Smartphones or MDTs.
Training for the constabulary’s response officers that are based on the island has started in the spring months in order that they are all fully prepared ahead of the unique summer demands on policing services that the Isle of Wight provides, in the form of music festivals and sailing regattas.
Once officers have been supplied with the necessary IT skills, they will then be able to access the key functions that are normally found on a station-based computer terminal from their vehicles.
Inspector Terry Clawson said: “The use of the fully-portable devices will increase police visibility within communities as officers will have access to live briefing information, enabling them to be in the right place at the right time to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The additional access to live information from force databases will also keep officers better informed when making decisions to protect residents.
“Members of the public who interact with the police will also experience officers entering vital data straight to the force’s database and carrying out enquiries on laptops, while situated in a residential or commercial environment.”
Moving, not leaving
“No police station would be replaced until an alternative location for the Safer Neighbourhoods team within the same area is found. Work is already well underway to identify possible locations in Cowes, the West Wight and Ventnor. The range of options could include schools, shops and offices used by other emergency services and community safety partner agencies.
“These alternative locations would not be traditional police stations with front counters or custody cells but would be bases for local Safer Neighbourhoods teams, equipped with facilities they need to police their neighbourhoods effectively.
“There will also be more ways for you to communicate with us, for example using social media networks and online one-stop-shops for crime reporting, crime updates, and advice.”
You can contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods team by calling 101 or 0845 045 45 45, or going online to www.hampshire.police.uk and typing in your postcode.
Mini-com users can call 01962 875000. Information can be given anonymously by phoning the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.