It has been in operation in the heart of the town centre in St Andrews for more than a century, so it’s not surprising it is showing signs of old age - and just isn’t fit for purpose any longer.
That’s the view of local Fife Police Inspector Bruce Thomson, who outlined the reasons behind the forthcoming move of the local cop station to the former St Andrews health centre in Pipeland Road.
While some may feel the closure of the present headquarters is another loss to St Andrews’ history and the end of an era, there is no doubt that the transfer of operations will help deliver Fife Constabulary’s stated aim of taking policing closer to the community.
During a tour of the present base led by Inspector Thomson, and accompanied by North East Fife Chief Inspector Jill Harper, both were at pains to highlight the major upgrading work required to bring the multi-storey building up to standard - in particular the need to provide disabled access to comply with the Disability Discrimation Act - the current inadequate access for police vehicles and the property not being environmentally friendly.
Inspector Thomson said: ”Basically, the station is no longer fit for purpose. The reason for moving is not the lack of space, but that the space we have is difficult to use.
“It is not good for disabled access, it’s not good for IT, it’s not good for vehicular access. It is not environmentally friendly and its carbon footprint is very high.”
Inspector Thomson said that significant investigations and several options had been considered to resolve the issue of disabled access. However, none had proved to be cost effective.
At the present headquarters there are a number of other issues which now require attention, including inadequate toilet, shower, locker and canteen facilities, while the layout of working and recreational areas are far from being user friendly. Cells which previously housed prisoners are now used for storage.
The property also contains two flats - neither is used now - one of which previously housed officers from the Metropolitan Police when Prince William was a student at St Andrews University.
Inspector Thomson pointed out that the move will take its headquarters to where the majority of the population lives in St Andrews, helping officers deliver its vision of taking policing closer to the public, adding,”We will be closer to the community we serve.”
He has been heavily involved in the project to transfer there and provided a considerable input to the design and layout of the new headquarters - although he is due to retire later this summer and unlikely to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
Chief Inspector Harper made it clear that police will continue to maintain a presence in the central area of the town and discussions are ongoing with other parties, including Fife Council and St Andrews University.
She added: ”I can reassure people we are examining a variety of options for access points in the town centre.”
The force has taken over the lease of its new headquarters until 2078 for a one-off payment of £105,000 and is likely to open in the late summer or early autumn. It will also share its facilities with other agencies.
Once the transfer is complete, Fife Constabulary will be looking to sell the old property in North Street as soon as is practicable and - due to its prime location - is expected to attract significant interest.