Like any other organisation or business, in policing we have to constantly look to the future to ensure we are staying ahead of the game.
A big part of what has been occupying the minds of the Chief Officers at Surrey Police and myself as we plan for the long-term has been our estate and more precisely the buildings our staff work from.
You may have read in the media recently a significant announcement from my office that we have begun a search for a new Force headquarters site in Surrey.
Work is underway to identify a new location in a more central area of the county, likely to be in the Leatherhead or Dorking area, to replace our current base at Mount Browne in Guildford.
It is no secret that some of our current buildings are outdated, poor quality and expensive to manage and maintain. Our new plans are designed to deliver long-term savings by disposing of some of our buildings and creating a modern and cost-effective estate that will allow us to meet the challenges of modern policing.
The project is expected to take at least four to five years to complete and the planning team have already instructed agents to start the search. If a suitable location can be found, it will replace the current sites at Woking and Mount Browne and also Reigate police station as the main eastern divisional base.
It is really important to stress that this is not a withdrawal from policing in our local communities – there will still be a police base in every borough where our Area Policing Teams and Safer Neighbourhood Teams will continue to operate from.
Surrey Police has been at Mount Browne for almost 70 years and has played a key part in the proud history of Surrey Police so this has been a really big decision to make.
But the most important factor in planning our future is that we provide value for money for the public. Designing a new HQ gives us a unique opportunity to really think about what we could do differently to deliver an even better service to residents. We have looked carefully at the potential budget for the project and whilst there will be inevitable relocation costs involved, I am satisfied this investment will provide savings in the long-term.
Bricks and mortar are only part of the equation of course. Our officers and staff are the single most important thing that makes Surrey Police tick.
Whilst we appreciate a big location move such as this will mean a longer journey to work and disruption for some, for others it will offer new opportunities.
What we must provide for them all is a modern and welcoming working environment fit for a police service in the 21st Century.
We are still at an early stage in our plans and there is much work to do in identifying and securing the right location. However I feel it is important to be share our thinking with our staff, the wider public and those in our business community at this point and I will keep you updated as these plans develop going forward.