POLICE officers in Dorking could be working out of council offices from this summer, it has emerged.
An announcement on the plans is expected to be made next month, but an agreement has been reached and Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) is already preparing for the police to move in.
A consultation about the idea of selling off police stations and housing officers in alternative venues such as shopping centres, community halls or council bases was held across Surrey last year.
Surrey Police regards its current estate as out-of-date, overly expensive to run and not conducive to modern policing.
It suggested people were supportive of moves to bring more officers onto the streets at the expense of some police stations.
One of these police stations has been identified as the Dorking facility in Moores Road, and officers based there have backed a relocation to the MVDC offices at Pippbrook.
Only a few respondents to the consultation, held between July and September, insisted they needed to be at a police station when meeting officers.
Almost 1,000 people responded, and community halls and shopping centres came out as the most popular places to meet police, along with speaking to them while they are on patrol.
Coffee shops and leisure centres had also been suggested, but they proved unpopular in the consultation.
The exercise appears not to have altered the police’s original hopes to move to Pippbrook.
MVDC has budgeted for the police move in its plans for the new financial year from April, published this week, and the police have said they expect to make an announcement on the plans next month.
Cllr Ben Tatham, portfolio holder for finance and assets at the district council, said: “MVDC and Surrey Police have reached an agreement in principle for a future co-location of the two authorities at Pippbrook.
“Negotiations are currently ongoing, but it is hoped the move can be completed in summer 2011.
“Given both authorities’ commitment to the residents and businesses of the district, MVDC welcomes the opportunity to share space at Pippbrook and encourage an even greater and closer level of collaborate work in the future.
“The move into one building will also make better use of the public estate, providing greater value for money for taxpayers.”
Gavin Stephens, head of neighbourhood policing at Surrey Police, spoke of some of the advantages the relocation would bring.
“Sharing buildings with other local authorities will enable more joint activity in tackling local issues, particularly antisocial behaviour,” he said.
“Similar co-locations have proven highly successful in Runnymede and Woking and we have always been clear that co-location is at the core of our estates plan.
“We hope that the move will go ahead later this year.”
People in Leatherhead are set to be left without any front-counter services at all. The town’s police station in Kingston Road receives an average of just nine visitors a day.
For counter services, people may be forced to travel to Reigate, Epsom or Dorking.
The police believe not having to retain old buildings across the force could save it £2.4 million each year and allow the recruitment of 200 extra officers.
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