We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Fears over dog school and covert ops end Surrey plans for new HQ

Surrey has abandoned plans for a new HQ because it could compromise covert operations and upset neighbours.

The force won’t be moving to a new site in Leatherhead from its current headquarters, Mount Browne, in Guildford where it has been based for 70 years.

The force’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend announced the decision that the multi-million pound project was being shelved.

Plans to buy the new site were finalised in 2018 – two years after it began - but problems were confirmed at a meeting in September this year of project leads and local councillors who are members of the force’s Police and Crime Panel.

The dog school, currently at the Mount Browne HQ, would have to be found separate premises in one of the UK’s most expensive areas for land to avoid upsetting neighbours.

Dog handler training was “not suited to the new site at Leatherhead due to the size and location in a residential area”.

The panel’s report also revealed that current HQ is where covert operations are undertaken so it was vital that officers and vehicles would not been seen. The report warned “the Leatherhead site in a residential area could not ensure the covert element nor was it large enough for the assets required”.

This too would need a separate site to be bought or rented.

Panel Chairman, David Reeve (Residents Association), noted “surprise that the requirements around the covert operations and Dog School were not initially taken into consideration”.

A commissioned report from CIPFA, the official accounting body for public sector finance, set out three options to the panel: continue with plans to develop the new site and find two other new sites, stay at Mount Browne or find an alternative.

The last option was ruled out in August following a comprehensive search.

Surrey will now overhaul its existing buildings but has yet to assess how much the renovations will cost.

The brownfield site in Leatherhead with planning permission will have increased in value.

It will now be sold and could attract a lot of interest from housing developers. 

Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp, Senior Responsible Officer for the Building the Future Programme, said the force was keen to have new starter housing provision for police officers in Surrey. This is driving the high turnover of police officers and the number of officers commuting into Surrey as it was expensive.

The work from home changes instigated during lockdown had reduced pressure on office space.

So the existing HQ will get a new joint Contact Centre and Force Control Room, a better location for the dog school, a new forensic hub and improved facilities for training and accommodation.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend (Con), who was only elected in May, announced the Leatherhead move was off.

She said: “The most important factor for me is that we provide value for money for our residents and deliver an even better policing service for them.

“Back in 2019, a decision was taken to build a new headquarters site in Leatherhead and I can fully understand the reasons why. But since then the policing landscape has shifted significantly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the way the Surrey Police workforce operate in terms of remote working.

“In light of that, I believe that remaining at Mount Browne is the right option for both Surrey Police and the public we serve.”

Leave a Comment
View Comments 1
In Other News
Puppy rescued from van becomes specialist blood detection dog
Dorset twitchy after bird lovers put new HQ plans in doubt
Police dog charity appeals to runners to help raise cash
Rethinking catalytic thefts brings 71% crime drop for Surrey
Forces consider mutual aid to counter M25 protestors
Welfare charity hands out six awards to police dogs and their handlers
Surrey rejects PCC's criticism of "divisive" LGBT rights group
Thames Valley pulls out of HR system collaboration with two forces
Tributes paid to Surrey PC who died in car crash
More News