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Radio coverage ‘can never be in question’, top cop says as Motorola says it’s working with police to fix new HQ problems

Unveiling of Gerry Richardson Way, the new road leading to the West Division Police Headquarters, off Clifton Road.
Unveiling of Gerry Richardson Way, the new road leading to the West Division Police Headquarters, off Clifton Road.

Communication “can be a lifeline for our emergency services and so network coverage can never be in question”, an ex-chief constable said.

Writing on the website of Airwave, which provides Lancashire Police with the radios that are not working properly in Blackpool’s new HQ in Marton, Keith Turner said: “No matter what, communications must work wherever, whenever.”

The radio problem, as reported in yesterday’s Gazette, saw signal boosters fitted at the £25m building off Clifton Road. The issues were blamed on steelwork used in its construction rather than the radios themselves, and a search for a solution is ongoing amid reports they still don’t work clearly in some parts of the headquarters.

A spokesman for the constabulary said: “I would like to reassure people this issue has had no impact on response times or our ability to keep our communities safe.”

Chiefs were left embarrassed after officers complained they could not hear messages coming through on their radios, which are understood to work fine when plugged into the 
system directly.

Mr Turner, formerly of Gwent Police, added: “As a member of the emergency services, if I am out of coverage I might not be able to do my job and in an emergency situation if I can’t do my job, something serious and life threatening could happen.”

But one PC said yesterday that most officers “respond from their police cars” rather than from the new HQ, which is a base for some of the local policing and immediate response teams, an investigations hub, and 42 custody cells. The building, in Gerry Richardson Way, is replacing the dilapidated Bonny Street station in the town centre.

Steve Rothwell, vice-chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, said: “Apparently there is something within the steelwork of the construction that has affected the radio reception in certain parts.”

A spokesman for Motorola Solutions, of which Airwave is a subsidiary, said: “Construction projects of this type can require an enhanced indoor coverage solution in order to ensure that non-fixed radio communications meet operational requirements. To achieve indoor coverage installation of additional infrastructure in a building may be required. We are working with Lancashire Police in order to assess the additional coverage requirements that this facility may have in order to agree the appropriate solution.”