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An opportunity to provide 21st Century police facilities for North Devon

Devon’s PCC and senior officers say they are committed to providing up-to-date facilities in North Devon after taking the decision to close Barnstaple Police Station because a roof fault that is not economically viable to repair.

PCC Alison Hernandez with Sgt Phil Hayle and Major Rook discuss the options at RM Chivenor this afternoon

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and the Assistant Chief Constable in charge of operations made the pledge as the force unveiled plans to move out of the station in Barnstaple’s North Walk.

The commissioner, who owns the police estate, visited Barnstaple Police Station on Monday to talk to staff, officers, volunteers and her estates staff, then visited Chivenor Naval base to discuss the possibility of moving some or all police operations there. The PCC’s estates department was already in talks with partners across the public and private sectors to find a solution that best suits the needs of north Devon residents and the force.

There will be no change to Devon and Cornwall Police’s provision in North Devon, with a commitment to provide custody services, a public enquiry office and work space.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “The issue with the roof provides us with an opportunity to overhaul the police estate in North Devon.

“I am committed to providing environments for the public, staff, officers and volunteers that are fit for modern-day policing, having delivered new stations on time and on budget in Liskeard and Exeter.

“Rather than throw good money after bad and attempt to fix a building that is coming to the end of its useful life my estates team and I will now progress plans to deliver a solution that best serves the needs of North Devon residents in the decades to come.

“In the meantime suitable temporary provision may be necessary to ensure continuity of service for North Devon residents. We will be actively engaging staff and officers in the planning of this vital project over the coming months to create facilities that are suitable for a world class police force.”

In June last year the PCC’s office conducted force-wide review of the estate following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) alert relating to the failure of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks.

Only three of the buildings managed by the PCC were constructed using this method. The force swimming pool and gym at Middlemoor Police Headquarters needed to be closed with immediate effect. Barnstaple Police Station’s roof was declared safe but in need of costly repair.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said: “Following national guidance from the Health & Safety Executive, engineers were called in to provide an assessment of the roof of Barnstaple police station. Nothing in their report suggests an imminent health and safety risk, however it does advise that further deterioration is possible and there are no viable repair options.

“The overriding priority is the safety of officers, staff and members of the public. In order to maintain operational effectiveness over the busy summer months the move will be completed before summer.

“The move has brought forward existing plans to develop a new operating base serving North Devon as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s longer term estates strategy. No suitable site has been identified yet, but work to find one has been under way for some time. 

“We will be engaging with local partners, local communities and staff as the project progresses. All of the services currently provided by Barnstaple Police Station, including a public enquiry office, response, custody capability and space for officers and staff will be still be available.”