Ferndown divisional police headquarters has been identified as an under-utilised resource and could be sold.
In the face of ongoing cuts in the police budget, Dorset Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner have been reviewing the Force’s estate to ensure buildings are optimised and they are in the best locations to meet operational demands.
As part of the review, a proposal has been put forward to sell divisional headquarters in Ferndown and find suitable accommodation for staff in other areas of the Force. The Force will engage with all members of staff potentially affected by the plans.
The strategy has identified that the Ferndown site is an under-utilised resource and transferring the 202 members of staff to other areas of the Force will save in excess of £500,000 a year in running costs.
A detailed evaluation will now be carried out to establish whether all staff based at Ferndown can be accommodated at other locations.
Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said: “It costs the Force £6.44m a year to run the Dorset Police estate and, while there will always be a requirement for specialist facilities such as custody suites, the review has established that we need to minimise our estate.
“The Force is currently reviewing its use of Ferndown station and its administrative facilities to identify whether they can be accommodated elsewhere.
“The sale of these buildings could result in a significant saving to the Force, which is essential if we are going to meet our target budget cuts.
“It is important that the absolute best use of resources is maintained and this is no longer always in bricks and mortar.
“While we have to meet a very challenging budgetary situation, we are committed to providing the best possible service and value for money.”
The use of mobile data, modern policing methods and improved contact for the public through the website and call centre has already identified significant capacity within the existing estate.
Chief Superintendent Jane Newall, Territorial Policing Commander, said: “We are committed to having a policing presence in Ferndown and I would like to reassure residents that the local Safer Neighbourhood Team will continue to work in the community where we have a local Community Office at the Barrington Centre.”
Police & Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “We need to make sure that the Dorset Police estate is fit for the future. If we lose a fifth of our budget and staff, we also need to lose some of our building estate. These proposed changes are about matching our resources to the demands of the communities that we serve, in order to keep people safe.
“I would like to reassure people in Dorset that we are committed to local neighbourhood policing and that police officers will still operate in the heart of Ferndown.”
The total value of Dorset Police’s estate is £49.5m and covers 80 individual sites. This currently costs the Force £6.44m a year to run, including the provision of PFI sites.