New station will reflect changing face of policing
WELLS residents will notice some significant changes when a new police station is built in the city.
It will be smaller than the old building on Glastonbury Road, there will be no front office for enquiries, and the response teams currently based in Wells will move to Shepton Mallet.
But in future the public are more likely to see police officers working on laptops in cafes around the city under a programme to get them out of the office and into the community.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Chief Inspector Sharon Bennett explained more about the proposal to relocate the police station at a Wells City Council meeting on July 26.
The present police station, built in 1950, is oversized, underutilised and requires extensive refurbishment.
The plan is to sell the station and replace it with a new purpose-built £200,000 base for the local policing team at the fire station site in Burcott Road.
“That is a massive investment for us and it’s a big investment in Wells,” said Ms Mountstevens.
Mayor Celia Wride asked whether other sites had been considered such as the library or the Town Hall – “It’s still got the police sign up there,” she pointed out.
Chief Constable Marsh said that he and Ms Mountstevens had looked at a number of options but discounted other locations because of factors such as inadequate parking, or not being visible enough.
“We felt on balance it was the best decision. We could have found ones that were a lot cheaper but not so good for Wells,” he said.
Addressing the issue of the front office, he said that in a week there were usually only about 20 general enquiries. “There is not a cerebral case for maintaining a front office at Wells police station,” he said.
Response policing will be provided from a Mendip hub at Shepton Mallet.
Chief Constable Marsh said: “I don’t believe you will see any difference. They will turn up just as quickly.”
Councillors were told that while millions of pounds in savings have had to be made by the police, and numbers have been reduced, there has been a huge increase in some types of crimes and new crime-types have been made possible.
“I think the thin blue line is as thin as it can go at the moment,” said Chief Constable Marsh.
In a rollout of technology, all officers will be issued with smartphones and laptops so that they can operate as a visible part of the community.
“People would like us to have a great many officers but we can’t,” said Ms Mountstevens.
“I’ve asked Andy to make sure the ones we’ve got are as visible as possible.”
• Picture: Chief Inspector Sharon Bennett, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh outside Wells Town Hall