The next generation of Gloucestershire police officers had a surprise today when Home Secretary Priti Patel dropped-in, virtually, to wish them luck.

She was scheduled to visit the Constabulary’s new visionary training centre at Berkeley but was forced to cancel due to other pressing Government business.

Instead, she sent a recorded video message in which she paid tribute to the officers of the future and the investment in local policing.

“The [Sabrina] centre will be the home for the next newest members of Gloucestershire’s policing family”, she said. “ Here, the next generation will make their start and what a wonderful place to do it, with the state of the art technology and facilities surrounded by green hills and a view of the River Severn.

“Within these walls, students will learn vital skills for their careers in policing. They will meet colleagues and make friends for life. And they will start getting on with what, quite simply, is the best job in the world. A job where they will protect the vulnerable in their communities, keep people safe and have the admiration and enduring respect of the public they serve”.

Following a brief business meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl and Chief Constable Rod Hansen, Minister for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse, a late substitute for the Home Secretary, unveiled a plaque on her behalf to officially open the building, which has been redeveloped at a cost of £6.8m on the site of the former nuclear power station

He said, “We know at some stage in their careers, police offices will have to put themselves into harm’s way. So we have a commensurate duty to support them and look after their wellbeing. Investment in a centre like this is a sign of progress and a beacon of hope and is extremely welcome”.

The event adhered to strict social distancing regulations and also marked the launch of the PCC’s updated police and crime plan, which sets out his strategy for how the constabulary operates.

Mr. Surl said, “Any police and crime plan has to change with the times to meet prevailing circumstances. This is my fifth such plan which sets out how I expect the Constabulary to operate over the next 18 months to two years.

A special landmark in the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary

“It is important that the public know, and the police understand, that it is a strategy for reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, because every crime matters and every contact with the public counts. It is a programme that addresses the continuing challenges posed by Covid and the social inequalities highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement”.

The opening of the Sabrina Centre, the Ancient Romans’ name for the River Severn, marks a special landmark in the 181 year history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, now recognised as the oldest force outside London.

Mr. Surl acquired the former laboratory for £600,000 on a 150-year lease, rent-free, from the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. Although primarily for the police, it is also designed with commercial potential in mind as a centre for the whole of Gloucestershire to be used by schools, businesses and other organisations.

Work on the Sabrina Centre started in September 2019. The first intake of students arrived in May when classroom sizes were adapted to meet the Government’s ambition to recruit 20,000 extra police nationally.

It has meeting and lecture rooms, a canteen, gym, parade ground and parking for around 250 cars.