Public views sought over police building shake-up in Coventry

Police in Coventry are beginning a programme of engagement following a review of its property portfolio in the city.

Proposals around changes to a number of police buildings are being shared with local councillors, partners and community groups as part of the decision-making process.

Announced by the Police and Crime Commissioner last year, the Coventry proposal forms part of a force-wide estates review aimed at ensuring the force's use of buildings is fit for purpose and meets the needs of local communities.

The proposals − which include Tile Hill, Radford and George Poole House bases followed by Bell Green, Foleshill and Coventry Central stations − will be shared with local groups over the next two months to seek thoughts and views.

Under the draft plans, officers from the smaller bases will move into buildings shared with other teams enabling them to work closer together, be tasked more efficiently and join forces on operations demanding large officer numbers.

The estates review assesses all police owned and leased buildings in the West Midlands over the next two years, looking at current use, the operational 'fit', condition of buildings, long term maintenance costs, and opportunities to share facilities with partners.

Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner Faye Abbot said: "With continuing financial pressure on policing, it is essential we review all our costs and expenditure to make sure that we keep officers on the streets, investing our resources in detecting and reducing crime.

"For example, there are 1,300 fewer police officers in West Midlands Police today than there were four years ago. This means some of our buildings are underused and empty much of the time. Buildings are expensive to run and maintain. Coventry has nine police buildings costing £1.3 million per year, and with a £2.9 million maintenance backlog. It's right to ask if we should be spending taxpayers' money on little used buildings at the expense of officers on the beat.

"Maintaining local policing at a time of reduced funding requires innovation and creativity; for example we will look at joint community bases. West Midlands Police must put the public first in everything it does and it has a responsibility to provide suitable facilities at an acceptable cost. We welcome as many views as possible on this important subject."

Coventry Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Claire Bell, added: "A range of engagement activity is planned to ensure we share our proposals with key groups in Coventry. We want to hear people's views and understand the impact of our proposals.

"No decisions will be made until we've heard from partners, community groups and residents and fed this back to the Police and Crime Commissioner for a decision.

"Whatever decisions are reached as part of our estates review we're determined they will not be to the detriment of our communities which will continue to receive the same level of service and interaction with officers.

"Crime in Coventry continues to fall…we're determined the downward trend continues so it's important our police teams are located in the best places to serve their communities."

To give your views, you can either contact West Midlands Police or the Police and Crime Commissioner.