Officers and staff at Cheshire Constabulary welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to Widnes this morning (Wednesday) to officially open the town’s new police station.
She was greeted by Police & Crime Commissioner John Dwyer and Chief Constable Simon Byrne, who gave her a guided tour of the station and an insight into the work that police do to tackle crime, protect victims and engage with our communities.
There was a particular emphasis on the use of technology in modern policing, with demonstrations of mobile fingerprint readers and of how the Constabulary utilises ANPR technology to tackle issues such as cross-border criminality.
There was also a special focus on the work the Constabulary does with partner organisations to protect vulnerable and young people. The Princess Royal is patron of the Catch 22 who, along with Missing From Home, had representatives on hand to explain how the Constabulary works with other agencies in Halton to offer support to young people who go missing from home.
Her Royal Highness was also shown the briefing room, where officers are tasked for the day ahead as well as the ongoing management and deployment of resources in the area, and she was introduced to officers and staff working a range of functions – from PCSOs to detectives, and intelligence officers to Special Constables.
The Princess Royal rounded off her visit by unveiling a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the station.
Widnes is no stranger to royal visits, and The Princess Royal followed in the footsteps of her mother HM Queen Elizabeth II who, with the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the town and Spike Island in 1979. Her Royal Highness has also been the special guest of Cheshire Constabulary previously when, five years ago, she opened the Tactical Training Centre at the Constabulary’s Winsford headquarters.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said: “I was delighted to be able to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Widnes Police Station.
“It was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to providing fit-for-purpose, cost-effective police buildings for our officers and staff that are better equipping us to tackle crime, and that give us a strong and visible presence in the town.”
Chief Constable Byrne added: “It was a great honour to show HRH The Princess Royal around our new station in Widnes.
“It was particularly important to us that we showcase our work with our colleagues at Catch 22 and Missing From Home in helping young people in the area, and she seemed genuinely engaged and impressed with what we do.
“I think she left with a real sense of how we work and our ethos under the ‘We’re Here’ principles – that we’re here for communities, for victims, for justice and when and where you need us.”
A number of civic guests were also in attendance, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire Joelle Warren, Mayor of Halton Cllr Ellen Cargill and consort Cllr Dave Cargill, Halton MP Derek Twigg and Halton Borough Council leader Cllr Rob Polhill.
Widnes officers moved into the new police station on Gerrard Street in July, relocating from the former site on Milton Road. It followed an extensive consultation process, which ultimately identified the former John Briggs House as ideal premises from which to be based, providing a significantly more practical and fit-for-purpose environment for modern policing.