Bedfordshire Police has pledged to “really get a grip” on crime in Leighton Buzzard after announcing that its new base in the heart of the town will open on August 30.
Seven officers – which will include constables, a sergeant and an inspector – will relocate from Leighton Buzzard Police Station in Hockliffe Road to a shared premises at the community fire station in Lake Street.
Response and community officers will be able to work from the new hub, and new signage will show the public that the fire station is now a Fire and Police Blue Light Facility.
Last year, Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway confirmed the sale of the police station to Central Beds Council (who intend to build a care home on the site) as part of her plans to revolutionise policing in the town. Over recent times the financially-challenged Force has been criticised for a lack of visible police presence.
Commenting on the move Mrs Holloway said: “The fire station is a much more sensible location than the police station, right at the heart of pubbing and clubbing district and off the High Street and Market Place.
“Bedfordshire Police also has the benefit of the proceeds of the sale to contribute to future building work, such as a new custody suite for the north of the county.”
Mrs Holloway says the police station sale comes at a time when the Force continues to work more closely with other local blue light services to maximise efficiency, improve public service and reduce costs.
Earlier this year, as part of the Force’s on-going Blue Light Integration project, the PCC launched a seventh policing hub in the county based at Ampthill Community Fire Station.
Chief Superintendent David Boyle said: “We remain committed to providing a visible policing presence in Leighton Buzzard, and our new base which is closer to the centre of the town will enable us to do that. The new hub will also allow us to continue to work more closely with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
“The Force faces many challenges, but community policing is at the heart of all we do, as is protecting the public and keeping our communities safe. We will continue to work with the community to ensure we tackle the issues that matter to them.”
Community policing for Leighton Buzzard, and the south of the county, has been reorganised under Chief Inspector Hob Hoque, who previously led the Force’s small Community Cohesion Team.
Mrs Holloway added: “I am happy to say there is a new sheriff in town as far as Leighton Buzzard is concerned. Chief Inspector Hoque is absolutely determined to embed the Community Policing Team at the very heart of the community in the town, for example linking regularly with town councillors and getting to know those running businesses and organisations to really get a grip on crime and anti-social behaviour in Leighton Buzzard.”
The base will not be open to the public and the LBO asked Beds Police to clarify what progress had been made with plans to re-open an enquiry office in the town, located in the Ambulance Station on Bassett Road and staffed by volunteers.
They were unable to comment before our deadline.