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A 21st Century home for police in Exeter

Work to deliver an Exeter police station fit for 21st Century crime-fighting will begin in earnest today (Tuesday, June 26) after a ground-breaking ceremony at Devon and Cornwall’s police headquarters.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez will be joined by police officers, police cadets and community partners for the event at Middlemoor.

The ceremony marks the start of work on a £29m project to provide a county operational headquarters for Devon which will be the base for up to 450 officers whose duties range from community policing to major crime investigation. A state-of-the-art custody suite will provide 40 police cells and there will be a new and improved public front desk.

The project - largely funded by the sale of police land - is a major boost for the Exeter economy and will mean the sale and redevelopment of the current Heavitree Road Police Station and the setting up of a new community policing hub run at the Exeter Civic Centre in collaboration with Exeter City Council.

Alison’s office is in charge of force land and has been able to fund and plan for the new station, which has been developed with help from senior officers, the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, and contractors Willmott Dixon.

“Heavitree Road just isn’t suitable for a modern police force and a need to replace it was identified many years ago,” Alison said.

“I’m delighted that my office and the force’s estates department have been able to work together to deliver a truly exceptional project.

“The Police Federation has been involved every step of the way and it’s only right that officers have been able to shape this fantastic facility. The new station will provide a modern and spacious working environment for those on the front line – one that is thoroughly deserved, and a public area that is a vast improvement on the desk at Heavitree Road.

“This project will be good for the police, good for Exeter and good for the public.”

Willmott Dixon’s experience of delivering custody suites, along with their record of working with ex-offenders as part of their social value and community investment programme, was central to the decision to award the company the contract.

Director Rob Woolcock said he was proud to be working together with Devon and Cornwall Police on the flagship project.

‘‘Today we celebrate the start of an exciting construction programme that will bring state-of-the-art facilities for Devon and Cornwall Police. Working with our local supply chain, we look forward to bringing the vision for this building to life,” he said.

“In addition, we will be working with Devon and Cornwall Police to identify opportunities to deliver additional social value in the local community.”

Superintendent Sam de Reya said she was delighted officers would have access to a station which suited a modernising force.

“Heavitree Road station was opened in 1960,” she said. “It has seen some refurbishments but is really not fit for purpose in terms of delivering policing and being a healthy working environment for our staff.

“This new development has provided an opportunity for us to look into what we will need in the future and build something that’s going to work for delivering good policing and staff wellness.

“The new build will bring together teams which have previously been separated, such as response and investigation teams alongside major crimes and operations. The new custody centre will allow us to deliver safer detention – it’s a really positive step.”

“I’m really glad we’re at the stage where we’ve got fences up and the ground marked out and we’re ready to go.”

Police Federation members have been heavily involved in the project’s development, meaning serving officers have helped with the design and look of the building.

Richie Poole, of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said collaboration between those delivering the project had been ‘seamless’. The federation has been involved with the fit-out of the interior, which will include wall-sized inspiring views of Devon.

“We’ve been involved from the outset,” he said.

“Because we’ve had this input, we’ve been able to help create a working environment that will be very different from that of the grey floors and blue chairs of police stations up and down the country.

“Our officers face the realities of front-line policing every single day, so to be able to be part of the team delivering a facility like this has been fantastic.”

Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards congratulated the OPCC and the force for their progress.

“We are delighted that Exeter will be home to this brilliant policing facility,” he said.