Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has officially broken the ground for works to begin on a new multi-million pound custody suite for Bedfordshire Police at its Kempston headquarters.
The works are to include a new 22-cell custody block, additional office accommodation and extra parking and the new custody block is set to be built within two years. The project marks the first major new building the force has undertaken since 2005.
“Since the old Greyfriars station in Bedford closed down because its custody suite was not fit for purpose, its replacement has been being planned. This has been a priority for me and I’m absolutely delighted to get this build underway on my watch.
“Our current custody suite is a temporary building, which can be sold on when it’s no longer needed, but I want us to have a purpose built modern detention suite. Custody in Luton has been totally refurbished since I became PCC in 2016 and we will now be creating similarly high standard facilities for the north of the county.
“This is essential as our detention staff and officers deserve to have the best working environment we can provide and we need to remember that those in police custody have not yet gone before a court and are innocent until proven guilty.
“Anyone wanting to know what Luton custody is like now only has to watch C4’s ’24 Hours in Police Custody’. Similar working and detention conditions are just what’s needed at Kempston moving forward,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Bedford Borough Council granted planning permission for the new site on Friday (29 May). The £18 million project coincides with planning permission set to run out on the existing temporary custody facility at Kempston.
The state-of-the-art custody facility will be accompanied by some 1,600 sqm of new office space. This will allow the force to have all its investigation teams operating under one roof, which should translate into benefits around operational work and information sharing.
Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “This is a major and much-needed investment in our force estate which will enormously improve our custody facilities in Bedfordshire.
“The additional office space will also allow us to bring a number of teams under one roof, fostering closer working between different departments and offering a better working environment.
“I have no doubt that this new facility will have a positive impact on the force for years to come.”
Willmott Dixon, the construction company undertaking the project, will be working to minimise the impact of the construction site for operational staff going back and forth from HQ.
Chris Tredget, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to be working with Bedfordshire Police to deliver their brand new 22-cell custody suite and offices. Having built similar facilities in the region, we are collaborating closely with them to ensure that the facility will meet all of their requirements and needs, providing a state-of-the-art building and better environment for all.”
“The other massive benefit of this new project is that it settles the future of Kempston HQ once and for all. It means Bedfordshire Police is wedded to the site as its headquarters which means that custody is just the start and new windows, car parking and a better and more sustainable workplace can be planned for the main building too which is just what our incredibly hard working officers and staff deserve,” said PCC Holloway.
The PCC commissioned environmental advisors The Carbon Trust to advise on an eco retrofit of the main HQ offices as opposed to a brand new building and their study concluded that it would cost only half of the amount to proceed with such adjustments rather than going for a new build police headquarters.
“With the new accommodation above custody this also leaves the invitation open for our good friends at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to consider whether they might wish to join us eventually on a combined blue light site,” said the PCC.