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Force considers selling off HQ to reinvest in stretched officer teams

Suffolk’s sprawling rural headquarters could be relocated to new city site with land sold off to developers

Suffolk Police’s Martlesham Heath headquarters could be sold off for residential development with the management function being relocated to Ipswich.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore is considering the potential sale of the site in order to “reinvest savings into policing and provide better value for money to tax payers.”

In order to identify the value of the site, the PCC needs to gain outline planning permission for residential use so that he can then make a decision as to whether a move is financially viable.

The outline planning application to establish the principle of building residential accommodation on the site was submitted to East Suffolk Council on Monday.

Mr Passmore, said: “In order to save money that can be re-invested into police services, we are exploring as one of the options the possibility of selling the site at Martlesham for development and relocating the headquarters elsewhere in the Ipswich area.

“Nothing is set in stone. We need to understand the true value of the site so that we can then make a decision as to whether it should be sold or not.  Work will continue alongside the application process to more fully evaluate the costs of relocation and refurbishment options with particular regard to working closely with other public sector partners.

The force has been struggling to meet rising demands including rural crime across an area covering more than 1,400 square miles. It has seen a 20% reduction in workforce since 2010 and a 7% increase in population – including people from London who have moved to Suffolk or who  own second homes in the area.

Earlier this month Peter Aldous, the Conservative MP for Waveney, stepped in after residents in the market town of Bungay complained over the lack of policing.

Concerns have been triggered by a rise in anti-social behaviour that started in December last year and has now escalated to targeting local school children. Some residents had revealed that they were too scared to report incidents for fear of reprisals by a group dubbed the Bungay Mafia.

Mr Aldous said people were no longer reporting crime incidents as there is a general perception that nothing will be done if they do so.

The PCC has increased the precept by 4.69%, which equates to £10 a year for a Band D property in order to pay for 20 extra officers across the county in areas such as serious crime disruption, roads policing and rural crime.

This is in addition to the 54 new officers which will be added to the establishment by March 2021 from the government uplift.

Seven of these additional officers will form a new, pro-active neighbourhood policing team, which will be deployable to any part of the county to deal with operational threats and challenges.

The remaining 13 officers will be deployed in an additional serious crime disruption team, the rural policing team, the outcome resolution team, a new domestic abuse perpetrator scheme and a new commercial vehicle enforcement unit.

The precept will also fund six civilian investigators to support the Sentinel teams introduced last year and the serious crime disruption team and ten police staff working in areas including modern slavery, domestic abuse and digital support.

The overall policing budget for 2020/21 will increase by £9.6m to £143.82m.

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