It was nearly “over and out” right from the start for Blackpool’s £25m new headquarters after a glitch left officers unable to use their radios.
Police chiefs have been left embarrassed after officers complained they couldn’t hear messages coming through their Airwave radios. Signal boosters have had to be installed to make sure messages can be heard.
A police source said: “With boosters, signals have gone from barely there to sporadic - to the extent they have to move around to get a signal even now.”
Frustrated officers reportedly tried moving to different parts of the building in the hope of getting a better signal – but as the phased move out of the old Bonny Street building continues, this is now more difficult.
The Gazette has been told that the Airwave radios still do not work clearly in some parts of the building while being worn by officers but are fine when plugged into the system directly.
The problem is thought to have been caused by steelwork used in its construction, although work is ongoing to find a solution for the problem.
The building, in Gerry Richardson Way off Clifton Road, is replacing the Bonny Street HQ which has fallen into a poor state of repair which costs thousands each year to maintain. It will eventually be demolished to make way for the council’s Central Station site leisure development in years to come.
The new headquarters, built by national construction Willmott Dixon was the biggest investment in the county force’s history and was funded as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s capital programme.
It has energy saving features including solar power panels and rainwater harvesting and is built from materials suitable for the coastal environment.
A spokesman from Lancashire Constabulary said: “The new West Division HQ is a fantastic building and has been really well received by staff since it opened as a massive improvement to Bonny Street.
“It also provides a police station that will serve the Fylde coast’s residents well for decades to come.
“When staff moved in it became clear that there was an issue affecting the signal for officer radios in some parts of the building.
“As soon as we became aware we immediately introduced a number of short term measures to mitigate the issue. We are now in the process of seeking a permanent solution to make sure all of the building is covered. No costs have been incurred and I would like to reassure people that this issue has had no impact on response times or our ability to keep our communities safe.”
As well as a front counter, the station provides a base for some of the local policing and immediate response teams, an investigations hub and 42 custody cells. It also houses a range of specialist teams serving the whole of the division, which covers Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster and Morecambe.
When Blackpool’s new £25m police headquarters opened earlier this year, it was hailed as a major boost for the force.
The state-of-the-art building boasts energy saving features like solar panels and rainwater harvesting.
The station is the largest investment in Lancashire Police’s history and replaces the ageing Bonny Street.
And when the front counter opened to the public in July, Chief Supt Matt Horn said: “The new West Division Police Headquarters is a massive improvement to the facilities we had at Bonny Street, which were very dated and simply no longer fit for purpose.
These new facilities ensure we are well placed to deliver our service to communities, from an operating centre that delivers a modern working environment for our staff who work so hard to keep the area safe.”
Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw, who declined to comment on the problems with the radios when contacted by The Gazette, has previously said: ““This landmark building will serve officers and the local community well.”
Nobody from the Lancashire Police Federation was available for comment.