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Lybster Police Station To Close As Part Of Savings Measures

28th January 2011

Lybster Police Station To Close As Part Of Savings Measures By Northern Constabulary
Police Stations were the focus of a meeting ot he Joint Northern Police Board today when it was agreed to close 15 police stations in the latest round of cuts and savings measures being announced by public bodies right across the UK. Lybster police station will now be covered by Wick police station.

Fifteen police stations across Northern Constabulary's force area will be closed following a decision by the Northern Joint Police Board. The stations include Scalloway and Dunrossness on Shetland and Stromness on Orkney. Barvas, Carloway, Ness and Tarbert on the Western Isles and Broadford on Skye will also close. Bettyhill, Lybster, Evanton, Cromarty, Spean Bridge, Drumnadrochit and Ardersier will also be shut. Beauly was also in the firing line but a decision on its future will be taken at a later date. Northern Constabulary and the board said the move would not impact policing in the areas involved.

Members were briefed in relation to the savings required to balance budgets for 2010/11 and beyond. Potential savings were highlighted in respect of revised call handling and reception services, station closures, the removal of police officer allowances and efficiency measures within Divisional Commands and Service Units, which amounted to approximately 2,926,751 in 2011/12.

The full paper on the savings measures is reproduced below -

NORTHERN JOINT POLICE BOARD
28th January 2011

Shared Services Best Value Review Programme
Report by the Chief Constable
Overview and Introduction
At the meeting of Northern Joint Police Board on 26 November 2010, the Chief
Constable provided an outline of the overall activity which had taken place in terms
of the phased and staged approach adopted by Northern Constabulary in the course
of the past year in relation to the ongoing efficiency programme. This set out how the
Executive Team of Northern Constabulary, led by the Chief Constable, intended to
face the challenges presented by the Government's austerity measures.
Members were briefed in relation to the savings required to balance budgets for
2010/11 and beyond. Potential savings were highlighted in respect of revised call
handling and reception services, station closures, the removal of police officer
allowances and efficiency measures within Divisional Commands and Service Units,
which amounted to approximately 2,926,751 in 2011/12.

The Board members accepted, in principle, the need for the implementation of the
proposals in order to maintain services at an acceptable level and avoid a substantial
overall reduction in police officer numbers. These proposed efficiency measures
were identified as being fundamental in retaining the future establishment of the
Force at an acceptable level against a back drop that constituent authorities were
seeking agreement for future funding which necessitated that officer numbers should
be maintained above a minimum of 761 for the coming financial year.

Station Closures
At the November 2010 meeting, the Board formally considered efficiency measures
proposed by the Chief Constable in relation to the closure of a total of 16 police
stations at Scalloway, Dunrossness, Stromness, Bettyhill, Lybster, Evanton,
Cromarty, Barvas, Carloway, Ness, Tarbert, Broadford, Spean Bridge, Beauly,
Drumnadrochit and Ardersier.

The Board acknowledged that there was a need for station closures to take place
however members asked for further detail in relation to the station at Beauly prior to
making any final decision. Potential savings of 245,117 are possible in respect of
the operating costs at these locations and capital receipts have been estimated at
2,210,000.

Appendix A to this document provides a full breakdown of these potential savings
The proposed economy measure connected to the closure of Beauly Police Station
and the accommodation of its officer complement in the adjacent station at Muir of
Ord is considered to be viable for a number of reasons. This was principally related
to the potential capital receipts which it was projected would be available from the
sale of both buildings and the suitability of the Muir of Ord building to accommodate
officers from stations which were situated in close proximity to each other.

Muir of Ord Police Station was upgraded in 2006/7 when its capacity was increased
by the integration of the fabric of the station and the attached former police house.
In terms of available floor space this station has greater capacity than Beauly to
accommodate the required officer establishment from both areas and the potential
capital receipts for the sale of Beauly Police Station and the adjoining house
(210,000) are higher than those projected for Muir of Ord (175,000).

It is also of note that study had revealed that the public foot fall at Beauly police
station was minimal and indeed the member of police staff who performed reception
duties has recently accepted voluntary redundancy as other clerical duties have
been absorbed elsewhere in the division.

Co-location at police premises presents an opportunity for sharing existing buildings
with partners and more recently this has become an additional factor which supports
the proposed retention of the Muir of Ord station. Highland Council have recently
asked the Force to consider the potential to locate their service point in Muir of Ord
police station giving the opportunity for the introduction of a joint front counter
initiative which would serve to enhance and indeed maintain public access to the
services provided from both organisations in that area.

As with other initiatives to locate service points in Police Stations, the Council's
Customer Services function will be able to vacate its own Muir of Ord building and
accordingly reduce its own premises costs. The sale of this property may also
provide the opportunity for capital receipts to the local authority and will allow for a
shared responsibility in respect of the running costs at Muir of Ord Police Station.
Initial scoping has identified that Muir of Ord Police Station has more than sufficient
capacity to accommodate the Council Service Point as well as the separate officer
teams from both stations. It is considered that optimum use has to be made of all
buildings which the Force is able to retain and to this end it is recommended that the
closure of Beauly Police station should take place with Muir of Ord being utilised as a
station which incorporates a partnership initiative with the local authority at that
location.

It is proposed that a final decision in relation to Beauly Police Station be delayed for
a short period of time at the request of local elected Members to enable them to
continue to seek consensus on whether Beauly or Muir of Ord Police Station should
close. However, a solution requires to be found which allows the necessary savings
to be made by the end of this current financial year 2010/11.

In the course of the BVRSS there has been a focus on identifying savings which
involve the use of shared buildings and in some instances joint working
arrangements with local authorities and other agencies. Opportunities for sharing
existing offices have been pursued at a number of other locations demonstrating the
benefits of cross-public sector collaboration to allow for the joint provision of services
and shared maintenance costs.

On 16 December 2010 Highland Council further debated its Customer Services
Review and decided to postpone a number of the other recommended co-locations
at Police Stations which were referred to in the previous report to the Board. A
decision was taken to conduct an additional study of Council assets and it is believed
that the results of this exercise will be available within twelve months when there
may be potential for further interaction with the Force in relation to co-locations.
This meeting did however sanction further work on potential initiatives and dialogue
has continued in respect of the co-locations at Bettyhill (Highland Council Service
Point) and Broadford (Highland Council Service Point). This will involve a police
presence in these Local Authority buildings and provides an alternative means for
community engagement and where appropriate staff deployment, to ensure that
visibility is maintained without necessarily having to retain police stations in these
particular areas of the Force.

Discussion has also been ongoing with Highland Council to take forward proposals to
introduce joint front counter initiatives in the course of the next year at Lairg and
Gairloch, in addition to the co-location at Muir of Ord which was previously referred to
in this report.

Since Northern Constabulary has no reception staff at the stations these
arrangements will not only preserve the Force's visibility at a time when cost
reductions are crucial, but will also improve accessibility for people in the relevant
communities.

These initiatives supplement work which is also taking place in the Island areas
where discussions are well advanced in respect of the sharing of accommodation at
Sumburgh Airport with Highlands & Islands Airports Limited to replace the
requirement for a police station at nearby Dunrossness. In addition Shetland Islands
Council is also considering the potential for co-location at the police station in Brae.
There have also been a number of discussions concerning co-location with Orkney
Islands Council at a new community hub which is being planned as part of a
regeneration project in the town of Stromness. Whilst the development of this project
is at an early stage, there is a willingness to accommodate a police presence in this
building should there be formal approval of this station closure.

Similar proposals have also been considered to provide this type of service within a
new build related to the construction of a school at Tarbert in the Western Isles, as
well as occupation of a section of Carloway Health Centre, should station closures be
ratified for the west side of Lewis.

Costs resulting from moving officers out of defunct Police Stations will be minor, and
in most cases these officers are already briefed and supported at larger stations
which will remain. Where partners move into Force premises, they will be
responsible for funding their own service needs.

Where Northern Constabulary accommodates Highland Council service point staff,
agreement has been reached in principle that the service point officers will provide a
basic front counter service to police customers as well as paying 5% of the premises
running costs. Where the Force has a contact point in Highland Council premises
(e.g. Bettyhill and Broadford), the Force will pay 5% of premises running costs to the
Council.

A Partnership Agreement has been drafted between Northern Constabulary and the
Customer Services function of Highland Council, and this is currently in the
consultation process. It sets out the terms and scope of the co-location initiative and
subject to the approval of these initiatives will cover Bettyhill, Broadford, Golspie,
Lairg, Gairloch and Muir of Ord.

It is intended that this Partnership Agreement may serve as a template for further
collaboration with Highland Council and other partner agencies. A programme of
training is also being developed for staff who will be affected by the initiative, and
subject to Board approval, the anticipated date of commencement is 01 April 2011.

Call Management
The previous Board meeting considered proposals for a reduction in the front
counter services delivered at Lerwick, Kirkwall, Thurso, Alness, Portree, Stornoway,
Aviemore and Nairn. Outside designated opening hours, it was also proposed that
telephone calls from the public would be diverted to 'Divisional Hubs' at the Force
Operations Centre (FOC), Wick and Fort William, which would be staffed on a 24/7
basis.

In the course of the discussion which took place at the previous meeting, the Board
Members indicated that they wished to consider the retention of 24-hour front
counter reception cover in the island areas with a particular emphasis on this taking
place in Lerwick and Stornoway.

Further study has now been carried out to assess the viability of this option which
has identified that this would be achievable; however, it is considered that the
continuation of these services at Lerwick and Stornoway would impact on the set-up
and effectiveness of the proposed FOC / Divisional `hub` call handling model.
Retention of this service would, in effect, require that there would be a need for the
retention of 1 x Reception / Control Room Assistant at both locations. Previous
analytical exercises have demonstrated that in the course of the out of hours period,
front counter reception duties have a low demand and for this reason it has been
identified that the staff in Stornoway and Lerwick would not be fully and effectively
deployed without having a responsibility for undertaking control room duties.
Whilst the staff concerned would have typing tasks to complete, it is clear that this
administrative demand is unpredictable and it is assessed that retention of call
management duties in these areas would ensure the staff are fully utilised.

In the event that these posts are to remain, it would mean that there is now only a
requirement for a minimal change to the current `out of hours` reception / control
room staff cover in the force, especially in the North and Central Division areas.
The recent work which has taken place has identified that if this alternative model is
adopted there will only be a need for a slight adjustment to the coverage in these
areas and this would be as follows:
North Division - Wick to undertake all the out of hours calls for Caithness &
Sutherland without any increase in staff. (No change to the North Islands
arrangement - Shetland currently manages the out of hours calls for Orkney).
Central Division - No change to current model as Fort William currently manages
the out of hours calls for Portree.

East Division - Out of hours calls from Aviemore and Nairn to be undertaken by the
FOC and will be absorbed without any requirement for additional staffing.
If this revised proposal is implemented, this would mean that staffing savings are still
possible in relation to the reduction of reception hours at Kirkwall, Thurso, Alness,
Portree, Aviemore ( 2 posts) and Nairn. It is proposed that reception hours should be
reduced to take place for a period of 12 hours each day, seven days a week at these
locations.

In the case of the stations at Dornoch and Tain, it is assessed that proposals to
routinely open reception areas for a period of 6 to 8 hours each day, 5 to 7 days a
week are still viable. The savings from these reduced reception hours at all of these
locations are estimated at 189,000.

These staffing reductions will result in a reduced administrative capability at those
stations which will not retain an out of hours service. Work has been undertaken to
confirm that there will still be sufficient capacity within the Force to perform this
function.

Processes are also being developed which will ensure a more global approach
towards the management of this activity to enable ongoing mutual support across
Divisions. This will ensure that business critical tasks such as custody reports are
completed within required timescales during the out of hours period.

Voluntary Redundancy
Members will recall that at the meeting on 26 November 2010, the Board approved
the requirement for a Voluntary Severance Scheme and devolved responsibility for
its implementation to the Chief Constable.

In addition to the recommendations from the BVRSS all Divisional Commanders and
Service Unit managers were asked to review staffing to achieve a 10% budget
reduction. The staffing impact from these changes was presented to the Board when
it last met.

For the appendixes with details of the savings go to the Northern Joint Board papers at
http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/committees/jointboards/northernjointpoliceboard/2011-01-28-pol-ag.htm


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