Kettering Police Station ‘not fit for purpose’

The 'locker room' which is in an underground corridor. Police officers have to use it to get changed
The 'locker room' which is in an underground corridor. Police officers have to use it to get changed

Kettering Police Station is not fit for purpose, say force bosses who want to close it.

They also say it would need millions of pounds spending on it in order to bring it up to scratch.

It is a situation repeated in Rushden, Wellingborough and Corby according to Northamptonshire Police Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds who is considering whether to shut town centre police stations and replace them with police offices in other public buildings.

The Telegraph was invited to look around Kettering Police Station in London Road to see the extent of the problem, and Mr Simmonds is not exaggerating when he says these buildings are in a poor state.

The windowless entrance foyer has a stained carpet and is stuffy and uninviting.

Things don’t improve inside the station, where a tiny interview room for members of the public has a polystyrene roof and a couple of 1980s chairs on either side of a stark wooden desk.

A walk further into the building reveals a glass wall covered with rusty metal bars, four storeys high and sinking into the ground which would cost £120,000 to repair.

White trunking housing telephone and electricity cables runs along every wall and ceiling and more than a dozen police officers are crammed into a small community response team room with too few desks.

The heating has two settings – on (Hawaii) or off (Greenland).

Just to replace the heating system and single-glazed windows would result in a bill of £600,000.

Northamptonshire Police head of estates and facilities Stuart Bonner, the man behind the plan to house a new Northern Headquarters on the North Kettering Business Park off the A6003, said: “Policing is changing dramatically.

“This building shows what policing looked like in 1971 when it opened.

“These are not good working conditions.

“We don’t need big buildings to house all our paperwork when we have computers and tablets and Blackberries.

“Every single window in the building is in need of repair.

“The roof is due to be replaced next year.

“That would cost hundreds of thousands and then you have to start renewing every carpet and painting every wall.

“You can’t really estimate how much it would cost.”

Continuing our tour, we are led to a dingy stairwell that takes us to the basement, and the police staff locker room – actually a corridor with heating pipes for the building running overhead.

It was never designed for daily use.

Sometimes, while officers are getting dressed, criminals being taken into the courthouse next door bundle past them, often shouting abuse.

The cells were shut down after they were found to be too decrepit to house offenders.

Suspects are now taken to cells at Corby which are not in much better condition.

The cells have been left as they were, with the ink for fingerprinting still lying next to a roller. The custody sergeant’s desk still has out of date information leaflets on the walls.

The cells are only used for a few hours each week to house people waiting for hearings at the magistrates’ court.

Sgt Kevin Woolridge worked down here for 11 hours every day before this part of the building shut.

He said: “It’s just not fit for purpose. You have to ask if this is inviting for members of the public? Do they really want to come in here?

“The access people have to police officers is not going to change – in fact if anything, it’s going to get better as police officers will spend more time out in the communities.

“We’ve invested lots in mobile technology to make sure our officers are able to do their jobs while out in their communities.”