A 25-year accommodation plan for ACT police will prioritise the much-needed expansion of the Gungahlin Police Station and an assessment of the long-term future of the Winchester Police Station.
Police Minister Mick Gentleman confirmed the study as police revealed an answer to their most urgent workplace health and safety issue: a new road policing headquarters in Hume.
Formerly the Canberra home of Toll Logistics, the national transport company which outgrew its 6000 square metres and is now in bigger premises further down the road, the vacant shed will be the future home for 80 staff from the crash investigation team, mobile traffic operations, emergency management and planning, and the radio technicians who build and maintain the vehicles.
The 15-year, $4.88 million lease deal was funded in the previous ACT budget.
Police have had their eye on the huge, empty shell on Sawmill Circuit for around two years, but ironically the arrival of the massive hailstorm in January 2020 put those plans on hold.
The irony is that as major insurers snapped up short-term leases on large volume of premises across the ACT - including the former Toll shed in Hume - to house their fast-track assessment and dent repair operations, the same hailstorm smashed its way through Belconnen and caused such massive water leaks at the Lathlain St police traffic centre that it became a workplace health and safety issue.
"They [traffic police] have been in accommodation there in Belconnen that is quite dated," Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said.
"One of the concerns that was raised with me when I first started [as CPO] was the Traffic Operations Centre in Belconnen, and where we are now is something we can present to the troops as a step forward."
Mr Gentleman admitted there "were some issues with old set-up [at Belconnen]".
The reality was much more serious, as the Traffic Operations Centre was the subject of a Comcare investigation late last year after its roof was badly damaged during the hailstorm.
Issues with the building remained, including electrical hazards, multiple trip and slip hazards, water leaks and pooling of water in the workplace, and fire safety problems.
Mangled vehicles from fatal collisions, preserved as investigative and potential coronial exhibits, are currently unprotected from the weather and environmental degradation at Belconnen.
The new Hume premises will place these vehicles under cover, screened off to the public and to those officers who attended the crash scenes.
Moving the radio technicians, who convert standard road vehicles into marked and unmarked police cars and motorcycles, will be a massive job, as they have huge volumes of fabrication equipment and machinery used to produce prototypes.
As Winchester Police Centre has a refurbishment to help prolong its future, attention is now turning to the small Gungahlin station, which officers share with firefighters and paramedics. The station has been described by the police association as no longer fit for purpose.
Winchester's huge site is owned by the ACT government and is seen as a high-value location for redevelopment.
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