ESSEX Police has proposed spending £6million on overhauling its 50- year-old police station in Victoria Avenue.
If Southend Council approves the plans, the new station would have an extra eight cells – up from its current 22 – as well as dedicated facilities for drugs inspections, wash rooms, interview suites and more booking-in desks.
The facade of the building would also be changed – although no details of how has yet been given.
Southend Chief Inspector Matt Bennett
DUE to budget cuts from the Government, we’re having to trim down our existing estate by selling some buildings, which we don’t really want to do, to pay to renovate others.
The idea is, once we’ve renovated these buildings, the year-on-year cost of maintaining them is not that expensive.
Southend police station is a 50-year-old building and, although it’s done well in that time, it’s reached the point all buildings come to where they are no longer suitable for the job they’re doing.
It’s in a perfect location, as it’s only five minutes from the High Street, ten minutes from the seafront and right next to the court and local authority building.
But some of the windows don’t close properly, it’s very draughty and sometimes we even get rain coming through.
The renovation work will deal with issues but also ensure we have things like a modern, high quality custody suite, which is fast and efficient and means officers aren’t wasting time standing around in queues.
The majority of our money will then be going where it needs to be – in employing people to solve people’s issues – while maintaining a low cost, accessible and efficient police station in the heart of the community for the next 50 years.
Former police chief Mick Thwaites
I HAD mixed feelings on hearing the news Southend police station could undergo a £6million refurbishment.
I spent many happy years at the station and understand completely the need to have a decent working environment and facilities in order to provide the people of this borough with the high standard of policing they deserve.
My uncertainty as to the validity of the decision comes with trying to explain to the community there is a need to spend this amount of money and, at the same time, close police stations, reduce the number of police officers, disband the Marine Section and reduce number of police dogs.
The commitment to the community does not come from a posh building, but with your ability to reduce crime, leading to fewer victims, and your response to the public when they call for help.
This requires cops on the streets, particularly in Southend, which saw an increase in crime last year and has particular challenges beyond those in the rest of the county.
It’s a pity we did not get a slight increase in the precept to help over the next few years to increase the number of police officers, PCSOs and support staff, who work together for the good of the people of this town.