Mr Steve White

Acting Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner

Dear Steve,

RE: Durham & Darlington Constabulary – The Police Estate and Custody Suites

I am writing to you on behalf of the MPs for Bishop Auckland, Darlington, North West Durham, and Sedgefield, as well as myself in my capacity as a candidate for the elections initially scheduled for May 2020, but due to the global Coronavirus pandemic have been delayed until at least May 2021.

We are all deeply concerned about the proposal to close the custody suites at: Bishop Auckland, Durham City, Peterlee, and Darlington police stations and to move this to a new central £21,000,000 facility in Spennymoor.

We have several major issues of concern:

1.) This proposal is taking place separately from the broader review of police stations across Co. Durham and Darlington. It is deeply concerning that custody is being treated separately when custody is an integral part of the broader police estate.

2.) This plan for a new central custody facility is taking place without public consultation.

3.) There is a significant democratic deficit in the decision-making process. As Labour’s Acting PCVC you replaced Ron Hogg, who had been elected as Labour’s candidate for PCVC in 2016. His sad death meant that you took over from your previously appointed role as Chief Exec to the Labour PCVC for what was meant to be 6 months but will now be 18 months without any democratic mandate for decisions of this scale.

As such, we have two clear requests. Firstly, that any formal decision or approval on the way forward regarding the custody facility proposal is delayed until after the PCVC elections. Secondly, that no decision is taken until a review of the whole police estate has been undertaken, in the interests of local policing, this should start now.

Finally, it appears that the monies for this proposed £21,000,000 spend have come from savings in not spending money on front line community policing and have been squirrelled away over several years. As Labour’s Acting PCVC and as the appointed Chief Executive to the late Labour PCVC, what has the justification been for withholding this money from the front line in our communities for years to build up this funding pot for Labour’s proposal? This just looks like another Labour vanity project not fully thought through, a bit like the new £50,000,000 County Hall spend by the Labour administration of Durham County Council.

Your sincerely,

George Jabbour, Conservative Party Candidate for Durham & Darlington PCVC

Dehenna Davison MP, Bishop Auckland

Peter Gibson MP, Darlington

Richard Holden MP, North West Durham

Paul Howell MP, Sedgefield