The future of 240 police buildings in the West Midlands and Staffordshire is under review as part of plans to save millions of pounds, it can be revealed today.
Officers could share other public sector buildings under the proposals being considered.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has launched a review into the force’s 140 properties to see if they are fit for purpose as he prepares for the loss of 3,000 officers and staff by 2016 as the result of government spending cuts. His hope is to free more police up to be out on patrol, while clawing back some of the £17.5 million annual cost of maintaining the force’s estate.
Mr Jones said today it was ‘highly unlikely’ that a £3.5m station which opened in 2010 in Railway Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton, would close. He also indicated the £10m station which opened in Moor Street, West Bromwich, in 2011 was safe, as well as the building in Alfred Squire Road, Wednesfield.
But he conceded some buildings used by the force could close. He said: “Clearly closing buildings is a possibility, but we’re looking at the best ways people can access police.”
It comes as his Staffordshire counterpart Matthew Ellis ploughs ahead with his own plans to increase officers’ presence around the county.
Currently the county has around 100 police buildings but Mr Ellis wants to cut waste while increasing the number of police outposts to 250 by 2017. By developing a new property strategy he hopes to reduce what he calls ‘the immense waste in buildings across the public sector’ by housing officers and other services at the same sites. Mr Ellis added: “We can utilise the public stock much better than has been done.”
The aim of both commissioners is to revolutionise the way their forces currently work amid multi-million pound spending cuts targets. The West Midlands force needs to make £152m savings by 2016, which will see the force lose around 3,000 officers and staff from its 13,500-strong workforce.
The Staffordshire force meanwhile needs to make £34m savings by 2015.