Built to serve

NZPA | Sun April 1st, 2018

It’s big and beautiful, which isn’t something we usually hear about police stations.

Justice Precinct

The newly opened Justice Precinct in Christchurch appears to be full, not only of police (and other justice-related groups), but also of potential.

It cost $300 million and was dogged with delays, but the 42,000-square-metre mega justice centre is finally open.

The precinct is owned by the Ministry of Justice and also houses Corrections, the courts and the headquarters of the Fire Service, St John and Civil Defence. There’s a large courtyard in the centre, open to the public, with water features and places to sit.

Police is the largest tenant, with 800 staff housed over five floors, encompassing Canterbury District HQ, Christchurch Central Police Station, South Comms and the District Command Centre.

Justice Precinct staff moving in

Staff settling in before the opening last month (Photo: STUFF).

Base isolatorNo doubt everyone working or visiting the building will be comforted to know that it has 133 base isolators (pictured left), designed to keep the precinct standing in a big shake, and that the emergency operations centre can function for 72 hours off the grid with enough food and water to last for three days.

The precinct is divided into three buildings connected by a series of “air bridges”, enabling easy access and encouraging collaboration between agencies.

On a smaller scale, Police staff are having to get used to some new ways of working, including hot desking, or, as it’s now called, activity-based working, big open-plan office spaces and “riser” desks, albeit with a multitude of conversation areas and meeting rooms and breakout spaces if privacy or silence is needed.

The idea, says Sergeant Jon Harris, one of the project team overseeing the transition to the new station, is that you can sit where you want, with a variety of configurations of desks and furniture, moving your tablet from desk to desk, desk to table, table to chair, or heading to a private room.

Office spaceCafeThe open plan offices feature "activity-based working" desks and conversation areas, and there are several cafes in the precinct.

There are several pluses for Police staff:

• Quick access to the undercover car parks via air bridges – one road policing officer said it took him only a few minutes to get into his patrol car and be on the road.

• Quick access to the courts – staff can wait in their own offices until they are needed.

• Every frontline officer has their own full-length locker (at last, somewhere to comfortably store the SRBA and other clothing and equipment).

• A range of cafes, and kitchen areas on each level.

• Smart doors that set off alarms if they are left open.

• A front counter that incorporates the latest safety features.

• Easy access to evidence and exhibit storage rooms via laneways from the vehicle bays (reducing the risk of items being stored in inappropriate places overnight).

• Within the open-plan offices, staff work in related “neighbourhoods” – eg, adult sexual assault, metro crime and the investigation support unit are based near each other.

• A special ops room for big cases.

• A state-of-the-art custody suite – the mothership of the station – that is shared with Corrections.

Custody SuiteCustody Suite 2Custody Suite lift

The state-of-the-art custody suite, which Police shares with Corrections, has 500 cameras, cells with variable opaque/clear windows, and a secure elevator up to the courtrooms.

On the negative side, there have been issues with the waste water system and radios not working properly in some areas.

Jon says Police ICT is installing another transmitter to remedy the problem of radio blind spots. As for the waste water issue, he says that was an isolated incident in the courts building and was fixed some time ago.

CarparkJustice Precinct courtyard

One of the covered car parks for Police vehicles; and the centre courtyard.

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