Police chiefs in North Yorkshire are considering as many as 22 sites around the county where officers could share a base with fire service and ambulance crews as part of plans to save money and modernise the service.
North Yorkshire Police’s estate strategy has already seen stations in areas such as Selby and Ripon, as well as the force’s headquarters at Newby Wiske, put up for sale.
But police and crime commissioner (PCC) Julia Mulligan is now considering wider plans for police teams in England’s largest county to share a base either with North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service or Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
Plans are currently being finalised for Malton police station to be put up for sale, with a new shared facility for police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service to be built north of the town.
And a list of towns and villages around North Yorkshire which have police offices as well as retained fire stations and ambulance bases, describe as ‘overlap locations’, has been drawn up.
Examples include the village of Reeth in Richmondshire, which has a police office, a retained fire station and an ambulance base 4.5 miles away in Bainbridge.
A recent presentation about the force’s estate strategy says: “There is now a legal duty under the Policing and Crime Bill for emergency services to collaborate.
“There are a number of estates locations where there are opportunities for North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, Yorkshire Ambulance Service & NYP co-locations.”
The estates report, which went before a scrutiny committee earlier this month, describes a “phased process of estate rationalisation [which] will bring about closer collaboration with public sector partners and allow for the introduction of mobile technology and agile working”.
It says: “Police services will be delivered through three tiers of estate, core operational hubs, deployment/response bases, and local community ‘touchpoints’.”
Last year the force sold buildings worth £1.562m, including £355,000 for Settle police station, and £390,000 for a building called Garden Cottage in Solberge near Northallerton, which was used as kennels.
An offer has been accepted on Ripon Police station in North Street, which is expected to fetch £780,000, with police in the city set to move into a shared facility with the fire service on old fire station premises.
Officers will move into a temporary site from next Spring, with the new build site, said to be costing less than £800,000, due to be completed by 2018. It is claimed the proposals will save £3.7 million over 30 years.
Local officers based at Boroughbridge police station had been due to be re-located to the town’s fire station, but will now move to Ripon, with response officers being based in Harrogate.
Police are currently in talks with Yorkshire Ambulance Service about the possibility of a new shared facility in Malton, which would be completed in 2018. It is estimated that this would involve the sale of the existing police station and would save £5.4 million over 30 years.
North Yorkshire Police’s current Newby Wiske headquarters was put up for sale in February ahead of the force’s £7 million move to Alverton Court in Northallerton next year.
The force says it has had “some expressions of interest that we are working through with prospective buyers”, but would not reveal details for commercial reasons.
A North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “We already share some accommodation with North Yorkshire Police including at Bedale, where there is a joint fire/police station.
“Work has started on a joint Fire and Police Transport and Logistics Hub in Thirsk and plans are being developed to rebuild Ripon Fire Station as a joint Fire, Police and Ambulance Station.
“Early discussions are also underway in respect of further opportunities for shared sites including considerations for a possible shared headquarters.”
Earlier this month, Mrs Mulligan proposed that the most senior police and fire officers in North Yorkshire could be brought together in one body overseeing both 999 services, to help save millions of pounds a year.
A report proposed that she could oversee and direct Chief Constable Dave Jones and Chief Fire Officer Nigel Hutchinson, through what she called “one overarching strategy delivered and monitored through one governance mechanism”.
She said the fire and police services could align and share services such as training facilities, transport management, HR, control rooms, communications, IT, planning and legal services.
A statement of intent for closer working was first submitted in 2013, and in recent months the Government has said PCCs should take on more responsibility for local fire services where possible.
This week, City of York council’s ruling Conservative group called for clarification of the proposed schemes and warned that it would only accept plans which are ‘fit for York’.
Council leader David Carr said: “We understand that in addition to the proposals from the PCC, the NY Fire and Rescue Service has put forth alternative plans for increasing efficiencies which do not involve merging with the police.
“Whilst the Conservative Group fully supports both the police and fire services becoming more efficient and adopting more integrated working practices where appropriate, we do not want efficiency alone to become the overriding rationale for any merger, but the safety and welfare of the residents of York and North Yorkshire.”