New financial opportunities and savings make a return feasible and better overall for taxpayers.
A joint statement from the Chief Constable and PCC:
Following a review of the Kent Police estate, a decision was taken in May 2020 to leave the force’s base at Sutton Road in Maidstone, which had served as Headquarters for the preceding 80 years. The site expanded significantly during that time, taking in a large area around the original Headquarters’ buildings.
Officers and staff at the site have since been relocated across the county to maximise the utilisation of the force’s other buildings and move many operational functions and teams closer to the communities they serve. This decision to leave Sutton Road was based on the potential revenue that could be achieved from the sale of the site on market conditions at the time and the projected workforce numbers of the force.
Since then, due to the Home Office’s Police Uplift Program and continued investment from increases in the local policing precept, Kent Police has seen significant growth in police officer numbers. This month the force has more police officers than at any time in history and will grow further, having overachieved recruitment targets. This has allowed us to look again at how the force is using our buildings, and we are pleased to say it has created an opportunity for the Chief officer team and a slimmed-down Headquarters function to return to the historic Sutton Road site.
The space currently used at North Kent police station as Headquarters will be handed over for other operational policing purposes, including the leasing of space for a commercial income. This decision will also create opportunities for further savings, over and above those originally identified.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is also located at Sutton Road and will remain there under the plans. Co-location with the Chief Constable will also allow for closer working at a critical time for policing nationally, and not require new premises to be sought. New powers may be available to PCCs in the near future that could present opportunities for revenue to be generated.
Further information about the rest of the site will be made available in due course, which could include development opportunities as originally intended. This decision will allow us to maximise occupancy and space utilisation across the estate, moving police officers and staff closer to the local communities they serve.
We are committed to ensuring the best value for money for the policing services provided in Kent and will continue to review the estate to ensure officers and staff are in the right locations, in buildings appropriate to the operational need, at the lowest costs possible. First and foremost in any decision taken on the use of our estate is ensuring it provides the best possible policing service to the people of Kent and value for taxpayers’ money.