£22m loans 'essential' to update Bedfordshire police buildings says Police and Crime Commissioner

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The most significant update has been the new £16 million custody suite at the force’s HQ in Kempston

Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner has undertaken “essential” long term borrowing of £22 million to update police buildings – including the new £16 million custody suite at the force’s HQ in Kempston.

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police explained that the Home Office has withdrawn all capital funding to PCCs.

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This means anything that is capital related, such as replacement vehicles and modifications to the estate are now funded by borrowing, the sale of capital items or from the day-to-day revenue budget.

The new custody suiteThe new custody suite
The new custody suite

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “This investment was essential, as the planning permission on our old temporary facility was due to expire and a previous HMI report identified our custody estate as requiring urgent attention.

“We now have a modern custody facility which ensures we can give the best possible care and support to those in custody, as well as a series of wider benefits, while also satisfying the requirements of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

“This facility also includes the creation of a workspace where all of our investigative teams now work from. This has delivered enormous policing benefits and will also save us considerable costs over time.

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“The environmental impact and energy cost of an ageing estate was also a consideration in making this investment, bearing in mind that this new building is the first full building project by Bedfordshire Police in nearly 30 years.

“I am determined to provide value for money for every penny of taxpayer cash we spend. While I am PCC, people’s council tax will be used to fund frontline police officers and fight crime.”

The police spokesperson said the overall cost of the custody suite and other improvements to the estate as part of this project totalled just under £20 million. The extra costs relate to a complete revamp of the car parks at HQ, security works, furniture, and ICT.

There are also longer-term costs associated with refurbishments at Luton Police Station.

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A Home Office Spokesperson said: “In 2022/23, Bedfordshire will receive up to £137 million, an increase of up to £8.1 million compared to the previous year. The overall police funding available will increase by up to 6.1 per cent in cash terms this year, which exceeds the changes in capital funding.”