AN ULTRA-MODERN police station on the Hyndburn-Black-burn boundary was opened by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw last Friday.
The £5.6m building at Greenbank on the Whitebirk Business Park replaces the old police station in Northgate, Blackburn, but will also serve as the force's divisional headquarters.
Hyndburn villains will see the inside of a new custody suite which has replaced the cramped Accring-ton Police Station cells. The suite, which will service the whole of the division, has 44 cells, two of which allow for constant supervision.
It will be the first in the county to use civilian custody officers employed by Lancashire Constabulary. It is also the first to have a purpose-built Viper Suite - Viper is a video identification system that makes identity parades obsolete. Witnesses are shown video stills rather than having to view a line of possible offenders.
Around 450 staff will work out of the new police station. But support departments such as road policing, the operational support unit, dog patrols and armed response officers will work from Accrington Police Station where existing accommodation is to be refurbished.
The majority of Accrington's operational officers will also continue to be based locally.
In opening the new station, Mr Straw said officers must compensate for the remote location and urged them not to lose touch with the public.
He said: "People working in Greenbank have to compensate for the fact that when they walk out they do not see the public. But it is good news that we have these headquarters. They are well suited to serve the whole of the area.''
Chief Constable Paul Stephenson said: "This represents a major investment. It was our biggest-ever investment and I have never been in a police station like it.''
Hyndburn's MP Greg Pope and Mayor Councillor Mrs Sandra Hayes were among the guests at the opening.
The following day the building was open to the public when there were displays by the road policing unit, police dogs, armed response officers, crime prevention officers, crime scene investigators, Crime-stoppers and recruitment officers.