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Force identifies £8.5m in savings from its estate

02/10/2015

West Midlands Police has identified potential capital and annual running cost savings of £8.5 million from its estate portfolio – a significant step towards the savings it needs to make over the next five years.

Over the next two years the force is proposing to move out of 28 buildings, none of which are open to the public.  Click here for the list of buildings.

The buildings earmarked for closure are either storage facilities or used as administrative bases by police officers. Teams based at these locations will move to other police buildings within the local policing area. 

The estimated £8.5 million saving from moving out of the 28 buildings comes at a crucial time as the force has to reduce its overall budget by £130 million by 2020. 

The force will present the proposals to the Police and Crime Commissioner at his Strategic Police and Crime board on Tuesday 6 October. If the proposals are given approval, a range of engagement activity will take place to ensure we share the proposals with key groups in our communities before a decision is made. 

The force is committed that any change in the use of estate does not adversely impact on service delivery.

The forcewide estates review started in 2012. At the start of the review there were 146 buildings at an annual running cost of £18.9 million. 

The current estate of 124 buildings costs £16 million a year to run and moving out of the additional 28 buildings will reduce the overall running costs by a further £1.3 million. 

In the proposals being presented to the PCC, the force is outlining plans to reduce the estate further over the next five years. Based on our average building size this will equate to approximately 68 buildings at a running cost of around £9 million per year.  

The review’s remit is to ensure the force’s use of buildings is fit for purpose and meets operational demand - assessing all police-owned and leased buildings, looking at issues such as how the force uses buildings, the condition and long term cost of maintaining premises and identifying any opportunities, which may exist for sharing facilities with partners. 

ACC Michele Larmour, force lead for local policing, said: “Many of these sites have been part of the police estate for a number of years and as such, we understand local communities may feel a connection to specific buildings. However many of our buildings have high running costs, are poorly located and are not fit for future operational purposes. 

“The force’s ambition as we move forward is to ensure a high quality policing service to the people of the West Midlands.

“It is vital we continue to question how much we invest in our estate and continue to maximise the service we provide to our communities. None of these sites are open to the public and it’s important to remember policing is about people not buildings.

“Through the WMP2020 programme, the force is introducing the latest technology to officers to help in the fight against crime. 

“The WMP2020 team are developing a mobile platform and new apps which will allow officers to work more dynamically on the streets – saving them having to go back and forth to stations. 

“The estates review has also seen the force make significant investments in police buildings with a new Birmingham City Centre police station replacing Steelhouse Lane next year as part of the Lloyd House refurbishment, two new custody suites and refurbishment of Bloxwich police station in Walsall. 

“The Lloyd House refurbishment is allowing the force to rationalise its city centre estate and yield large savings by eliminating expensive city centre rents saving nearly £3 million a year. The occupancy of Lloyd House will be almost doubled from 850 to about 1500. 

“If the proposals are given approval, a range of engagement activity will take place over the coming months to ensure we share the proposals with our local communities.”

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “As the cuts continue to bite we are faced with some really tough decisions. The Government has consistently continued to disproportionately cut funding in the West Midlands and the challenge is how we maintain the service that the public comes into contact with.

“I will wait to hear the full report from West Midlands Police on this in early October but my view is that we must do all we can to support officer numbers. If that can be achieved by reducing the police estate further then that should be given serious consideration.”

Click here to view paper to the PCC.