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Issue No. 374 October 2013

Collaboration built into new station

Commissioner Peter Marshall, Corrections CEO Ray Smith and Minister Anne Tolley unveil the plaque to mark the opening of New Plymouth Police Station.
Photo: Mike Barnett, New Plymouth Forensic Photography

Police in New Plymouth and Wanaka are operating out of new surroundings with the opening of their stations this month.

New Plymouth's station opened on 1 October, with Commissioner Peter Marshall, Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley and Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith all praising the collaborative nature of the project.

The $17.5 million station includes a Corrections-staffed remand centre of 12 double-bunked cells - the first time such a facility has been purpose-built into a police station, apart from the temporary complex in Christchurch. The opening is a landmark for the Joining Forces project, which seeks to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the Justice Sector by working together to share expertise and resources.

At the opening ceremony, Commissioner Marshall said the old station had served New Plymouth well but was past its prime and needed replacement.

The impending closure of New Plymouth's prison focused minds on the potential for sharing.

"It was the perfect opportunity for Joining Forces to examine what could be done to bring Police and Corrections operations together - with so much overlap in terms of prisoner management, it made sense to share facilities and infrastructure."

Minister Tolley stressed the significance of the shared building to the Justice Sector's common goals of safer communities, less crime and reoffending and fewer victims.

Wanaka Police Station, opened on 9 October by Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls, was designed to accommodate command and operational capability for New Zealand's busiest Alpine SAR organisation.

The New Plymouth and Wanaka stations were the 14th and 15th opened since 2009. The opening of Rotorua's $18.5 million station next year will take the investment since 2009 to more than $140 million.

Staff embrace joined-up working

New Plymouth Police Station - "a really cool working environment".
Photo: Mike Barnett, New Plymouth Forensic Photography

Staff are embracing the joined-up working arrangements - and enjoying their new station environment. The Corrections Centre took its first prisoners on 2 October - but staff had already developed a working relationship through weeks of preparation and acclimatisation.

Senior Sergeant Robbie O'Keefe, O/C Patrol & Response, says: "We've sat down and worked through planning and procedures. The intention all round is that we'll continue working together and make the most of the efficiencies.

"The staff get on really well. We're sharing things like the fingerprint and photo area, locker room, meal room and the gymnasium - the reality is Corrections are a real part of this station. There's goodwill from both sides."

As well as efficiencies in prisoner management and transport, arrangements include Whanganui Prison providing laundry and food for Police and Corrections prisoners at New Plymouth.

Area Commander Inspector Blair Telford said staff particularly appreciated the surroundings after 18 months spent in temporary base in a converted gym.

"It's such a refreshing place after our old Ministry of Works building and the 'less than salubrious' gym," he says. "It's light, airy and functional, with some spaces designed by our staff in conjunction with the architects - a really cool working environment."

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