POLICE have given the Bridgwater Mercury access to the town’s new police centre to see the new state-of-the-art facilities before hundreds of staff move in later this month.

The new centre will have more custody space, a total of 36 cells, which police say will improve the rate which people in cells are dealt with, freeing up more time for officers to go on street patrol.

More than 650 staff and officers will be based at Bridgwater Police Centre at Express Park with the first people moving in on August 18. The station will open to the public at the end of September.

Police bought the land for new bases being built at Bridgwater, Patchway and Keynsham as well as a new fire arms training centre in Portishead, a total of £8 million. The building of the bases was funded through the PFI initiative from the Home Office.

At the new Bridgwater base there will also be investigation teams, local policing officers, response teams, case progression and prosecution, a Tri Force specialist operations team, a victim care unit and a multi-agency service hub.

The new buildings will also have a new ‘Operating Model’ providing flexible working and open plan areas, rather old style small offices.

Enquiry offices, which will be open to the public, will also be based in Bridgwater which will be open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week. 

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The opening of these new modern police centres marks the end of a long journey to transform the police estate and make it fit for a new generation of policing. Many police stations are outdated, inefficient and under-utilised. These new buildings are not only greener, more sustainable and more cost efficient, they are also flexible enough to meet the future demands that Avon and Somerset Constabulary will face over the coming years.

“I am delighted that throughout this development we have been able to offer apprenticeships, opportunities for ex-offenders and school visits. There have also been many local economic benefits with 77% of subcontractors based within 35 miles of each of the sites, or within the Avon and Somerset area. I would like to thank the project team, our contractors, our staff and the cooperation of our neighbours for making these new police centres possible.”

Acting Chief Constable John Long said: “The new police centres enable us to respond to the needs of modern policing. Replacing small, inefficient buildings with larger centres where we can centralise custody and locate our teams together, helps us to work in a new and more efficient way. These police centres will assist us as we continue to face financial pressures.

“It also increases the potential for integrated working by co-locating with our partners, as we have already started in Weston-super-Mare, Mendip and Keynsham.”