Cambridge to Lose Police Station

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009. 12:30pm

My Stolen Bike Parked at Parkside Police Station
A report released today in advance of a meeting of a Cambridgeshire Police Authority next Wednesday, the 29th of April reveals that Cambridge is likely to lose its police station at Parkside. The Police Authority is shockingly not being asked for its comments on the plans, or to approve them, it is being asked merely to note the report. This is the first time a report on the plans has been on the agenda for a public meeting, previous discussions have been held in secret.

The police say that they want to double the number of cells they have available in their custody suit from the current 15 to 30. They say this cannot be done at Parkside without at two story custody building, and such an arrangement is likely to not meet future government requirements. The fabric of the current buildings at Parkside is reported to be deteriorating.

The report notes that there is a requirement for a police presence within the city centre. What they see as necessary is shockingly minimal:

Some facilities must remain in the town centre including Neighbourhood Support. In addition it is generally accepted that a “Customer Contact Point” with shop window, reception, waiting area, interview room and a back office would also be required.

The report’s conclusions state:

The feasibility study concluded that future policing requirements would best be served by pursuing a new facility on the edge of the City, disposing of the existing site and retaining a City Centre policing presence in either central offices or a retail unit.

My views

I think we need to ensure that the “Customer Contact Point” provides all the services offered by the front desk at Parkside Police Station. Preferably it would be a lot more friendly and useful than that has become given the attitude of some of the civilian staff they employ to man it. Overseas students ought be able to register with the police there, it ought be possible to report crime, and it ought be possible to present insurance/MoT/V5 documents after having been stopped by the police while driving for example.

I think a lot depends on the police’s definition of “the edge of the city”; if the police were to relocate to a site such as the Trumpington Park and Ride (or on the nearby new developments), or the University’s West Cambridge site then that would perhaps be fine. What I do not think we ought have is our police station on on an out of town industrial estate / science park. Being arrested by the police, particularly in Cambridge where they treat the PACE codes as guidance they don’t have to follow, would be bad enough, without being dumped in the middle of nowhere when and if they let you out.

I wonder how, and if, local councillors or the MP have been consulted about the proposed changes. I have not seen this discussed at any Cambridge City Council meetings, and I have attended all the recent ones at which policing matters have been on the agenda.

The Police Authority report can be read via this link.

One person to contact with comments is Cllr Kevin Wilkins, a County Councillor for a City Ward and member of the Police Authority. In my experience he has failed to keep his promises to raise matters at the Police Authority.

3 comments/updates on “Cambridge to Lose Police Station

  1. Brian Johnson

    Well, it’s all obviously going to go through ‘on the nod’ so I wonder how much use it is asking awkward questions.

    I also wonder if finding out the location of other police stations (e.g. how many other cities have out-of-town ‘central’ police stations?) is an offence under anti-terrorist laws these days?

    But mainly I wonder why the requirement for cells has doubled in the last 40 years? Has there been a commensurate increase in Cambridge population or are the police simply arresting more people? (One could then go on to wonder whether more arrests equals better or worse policing — but that’s not under consideration here, is it?)

    Histon P&R looks a good place.

  2. Richard Article author


    Collecting a list of locations of Police Stations could be interpreted as an offence under the Counter Terrorism Act 2008.

    The requirement for more cells at Parkside has arisen from centralisation. A custody suite is very expensive to maintain and staff, so there are great savings to be made by consolidating them, and by only bringing some into use when they are needed.

  3. Brian Johnson

    Ah, so by gathering all the outlying cells into one place the police have saved a goodly amount of cash. Good idea. All in favour of.

    But… “The police say that they want to double the number of cells they have available in their custody suit from the current 15 to 30.” but they don’t say *why* they want to double the numbers.

    As you know, in the report, all they say is:

    4.4 [...] The current facility only provides 15 cells whereas at least 30 are required.

    Why? Do they anticipate crime figures doubling in the next 40 years?

    There are some interesting comments on the Cambridge News Online website from last month…


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