New police station shut for safety revamp

New police station shut for safety revamp
Hawke’s Bay Today, Hawke’s Bay by Victoria White 07 Apr 2017

After being open for fewer than five months, the new Napier Police Station has been temporarily closed for safety improvements.

The $5.5 million Dalton St station was officially opened in December, but has been closed to the public for the past week as modifications are made to the front counter area “for the safety of both the public and police staff”.

In the meantime, the old Napier Police Station is operating a temporary counter service.

Hawke’s Bay Area Commander Inspector Tania Kura said one significant alteration was a new front counter design to create more distance between visitors and police staff.

These included “subtle design elements aimed at slowing down a threatening person” and more visible measures including barriers, alarms, and access control measures.

“These features are designed to deal with the most likely threats at publicly accessible police premises and will replace the current design features which were put in place during original planning for the new Napier Police Station.” These changes were in line with a national programme to improve front counter safety, she said, which were agreed to following a review of stations signalled in September 2015.

Construction on the new station began in mid-2016.

When asked why these modifications were not undertaken during the build, Ms Kura said it was “well under way” when the review was conducted.

“However, the design initially used in the new building was still much safer than front counter in place at the old station,” she said.

However, Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash felt this was part of an “ongoing saga” of inadequate police resourcing.

“Having to close the station to do more work less than six months after it opened is hardly ideal for anyone . . . the public or the police themselves,” the Napier MP said.

As a “new state of the art police station”, Mr Nash said he thought safety measures should have been incorporated into the build, even without the review being completed.

The new front counter was expected to reopen soon. The rest of the new station “remains fully operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, Ms Kura said.

The process had also been useful for the design of the new Hawke’s Bay Area Police headquarters in Hastings, expected to cost about $19m.

National’s Napier candidate, David Elliott, said he had no problem with the renovations, as “that’s the place where the public interact with the police and it needs to feel as comfortable and inviting, and as safe as it can”.

“I’m glad they built the station on time and got it under way.

“The fact it’s the newest station in New Zealand is something we should be proud of.” Green candidate Damon Rusden said even though the old counter was open, he felt the closure at the new station was “extremely disappointing”.

“The police should be readily accessible to the public: one of the fundamental things police should do is be open, available and accessible.” WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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