The need for service change
Background to the consultation
We currently operate a two-centre policing model, with the county being split between north and south. The current model uses Thorpe Wood at Peterborough as the main northern police station, and Parkside in Cambridge city centre as the main southern police station. Both stations contain custody facilities and are supported by smaller satellite police stations across the county.
Parkside was constructed in the 1960s and is beyond its functional age as a police facility. It requires significant investment to keep the building operational in the mid to long term. Essential maintenance was completed at Parkside in 2014, but this was only intended to extend the useable lifespan of the buildings for up to five years.
In June 2019, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner sought the views of the public through a survey about a potential site at Milton for a new police station to replace the outdated Parkside facilities, whilst maintaining a Police Information Point in Cambridge city centre.
Having listened to the feedback received, we held a consultation on the principle of proposals for both a new city centre police station and a police hub on the outskirts of Cambridge to meet the area’s growth and to respond to the challenges of modern-day policing. This reflects the operational need of the service and feedback received from the public in 2019 on the need for access to the police in the city centre.
Details of a final site for both the city centre police station and the hub will be subject to the outcome of this consultation on the principle of the service change proposals.
The nature of policing and crime in Cambridgeshire is changing
Complex crime – Criminal investigations are becoming more complex, with digitally-enabled crime that can require us to comprehensively secure evidence such as digital media. Some detainees may also potentially have complex medical needs that require them to see a health care practitioner or might need an interpreter, which can increase detention times at police stations. New facilities and more cells will help us respond to and investigate this type of crime more effectively.
Digital age – We are now using virtual courts where a detainee appears in court via a video link from the police station, rather than being transported to the court and back. This helps to speed up the court appearance process but places an extra demand on custody, requiring enhanced facilities and more cells.
Rising expectations – People want to report crime and access information in a quick and easy manner and today crime is mainly reported by telephone and online. Ensuring a visible police presence is also important to the public. Maximising police time is important and new facilities will allow us to increase police time on patrol (both on foot and in a car), which is the fastest way to respond to crime.
Our population is growing
Cambridgeshire’s population is set to grow significantly over the next decade, putting additional pressures on the police service. Up to 33,500 new homes are planned for the southern area of Cambridgeshire by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, including around the villages of Milton, Waterbeach, Northstowe and the wider A10 corridor. Nearly 9,000 of these have already been built.
Increased demand for policing will follow, due to the projected growth of the population and housing numbers. This will include a demand on the facilities we have, such as the number of cells available to deal with detainees in custody. We need to enhance our service and facilities to respond to this need.
Our current facilities at Parkside do not allow us to fully respond to today’s needs
No room to expand the station – The building does not have enough cells and offers no option to expand.
Too few cells affect our frontline service – Currently, when the cells are full at Parkside, police officers must transport the people they arrest 40 miles to Peterborough or King’s Lynn. This takes officers away from responding to other incidents in Cambridge and the surrounding area.
Location is subject to traffic – The location for the transfer of detainees into and out of the city for custody is delayed by traffic, and takes time away from officers attending other calls for service in Cambridge and the surrounding area.