Commissioner Alison Hernandez outside the new Barnstaple Police Station
Alison Hernandez manages around 130 properties across Devon and Cornwall and conducted a comprehensive survey of them in 2019 after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nationally issued a warning around the Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) construction method.
RAAC is a lightweight form of precast concrete, frequently used in public sector buildings in the UK from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. It is mainly found in roofs, although occasionally in floors and walls. It is less durable than traditional concrete and there have been problems as a result, which could have significant safety consequences.
The issue was highlighted this week when the Department for Education said dozens of schools buildings were affected by the issue.
Surveyors employed by the Commissioner’s estates team four years ago reported that a sports hall and a swimming pool complex at Devon and Cornwall Police’s Middlemoor headquarters in Exeter, Devon, and Barnstaple Police Station in North Devon were at risk of collapse. The sports hall and swimming pool complex were demolished and the station is due to be demolished. A new police station was established nearby in a £2m project funded by the Commissioner and a new sports hall opened at the force’s HQ earlier this year.
The Commissioner said: “RAAC building methods left an expensive and dangerous legacy for the owners and managers of public sector estates. I would like to thank my estates team for leading the way nationally on this issue. Their prompt and effective action protected the force’s workforce and the public while enabling operational policing to continue.”