FLEET POLICE STATION CROOKHAM ROAD – HISTORY OF FLEET

Established 1967 - Closed 2015

by For Fleet's Sake
 

SUMMARY

In an era where familiar high street faces are slowly vanishing, we turn our focus to possibly the one residence that most Fleet residents would like to see brought back the most – Fleet Police Station.

Even with crime on the rise and police budgets stretched to breaking point, the decision to close the station was still made back in 2014 and the building has since been purchased by Churchill retirement living, who propose to turn the former station into 30 apartments for older people, something Fleet is far from short of.

Below, we take a look at Fleet Police Station in Crookham Road and have one last wander round it before demolition. With interviews, documents, photos, videos and more, I hope you enjoy the memories…and if you have any of your own, then please comment at the bottom of the page, we’d love to hear from you!

Fleet Police station used to occupy the address below, Google maps still currently shows the building as being the station although sadly that will vanish over time.

LOCATION(S)

They used to occupy the address below:

13 Crookham Road, Fleet, Hampshire. GU51 5QQ

MEMORIES OF FLEET POLICE STATION

As the developers start to move in, Ruth Hill and Councillor Steve Forster gained access to the station and took one last look around, so here we share with you a few memories of what is, or used to be, Fleet Police Station.

The original Police Station was based in Reading Road South and is today used as residential accommodation – that station was closed in 1968. The Service then moved to the purpose built building in Crookham Road.  This was built in 1967 and many officers moved there in 1968.” – Ruth Hill

Below: Fleet Police Station in Crookham Road, pictured circa 1970.

“It was very much a focal point in Fleet with its blue exterior and flag pole. You knew where to go for help or advice. Beat officers were based there as well as area cars, CID, and a scenes of crime officer. The reception was to the left as you walked in and the cells were through the doors and down the stairs.” – Ruth Hill

Below: Fleet Police Station reception area.

Below: Fleet Police Station cells.

“Throughout the years the building changed to incorporate up to date communications and IT facilities, the layout of the front changed and the cells were bricked up never to be used again. The cells were mainly used for light crime. The more serious criminals were taken to Aldershot.  These days it’s Aldershot or Basingstoke. Fleet was a sub division along with Hartley Wintney, Crondall, Mattingly, Yateley, Hook and Odiham. Fleets officers also looked after Hartley Wintney.”

HISTORY

Planning for the station began back in 1951, a journey which is now reaching its end. Here is a brief summary of the timeline for the building:

KEY DATES:

1951 – (13th November) Approval granted for development of land to erect station.

1965 – (2nd October) Plans approved to build Police Station.

1967 – Police Station established.

2014 – (6th August) Sale of station was signed off.

2015 – Police station closed.

2019 – (22nd March) Application to turn station into 30 retirement apartments.

2019 – (1st July) Official sale date. (Sold for £1,342,974).

2020 – (13th January) Application validated to demolish existing building and build 31 apartments.

VIDEO WALKTHROUGHS

There are some that will have many memories of Fleet Police Station – for a number of reasons! So whether you’re familiar with the building or not, I hope you’ll find these final walkthroughs of the Police Station at Crookham Road interesting and take one last look before the developers move in to demolish the building. Taken September 2019. Video credits: Part 1 – Ruth Hill, Parts 2 – 4 Steve Forster.

Below: Fleet Police Station (part 1).

Below: Fleet Police Station (part 2).

Below: Fleet Police Station (part 3).

Below: Fleet Police Station (part 4).

INTERVIEW – HENRY ATKINSON

By Ruth Hill

“I spoke to ex-serving officer Henry Atkinson, who served there from 1968 to 1972, before he transferred to Portsmouth…he then came back to Fleet from 1982 to 1998. He is staggered that a decision was taken to remove a Police Station from Fleet. The area has grown in population and developments, pubs are open longer and crime has risen since his day. He said that after 11pm Fleet used to be practically dead and very, very quiet.”

“He has seen how dramatically things have changed and how the officers are so stretched now. Just making a simple arrest can eat up most of the day. They have to take the perpetrator to Basingstoke or Aldershot. Most drunk and disorderly go to Aldershot, more serious crimes to Basingstoke. But with all the paperwork, journey time and process, it takes the police off the beat for a period of time. He believes this is why a lot of crimes go unsolved. There just aren’t the resources anymore and the whole process and lack of presence of a Police Station and facilities in Fleet are causing the rise in crime and lack of faith in today’s force.” 

Below: Memories of a Police Station.

“One of the nicer things Henry mentioned, was that in their spare time they did socialise as they had sports teams, including a cricket team which he played in.”

“Back in the 70s and 80s we knew who the local beat officers were and we were terrified of them. Notably, Geoff Spearpoint and Nigel Leeds.  Sadly Geoff Spearpoint is now deceased. He was a fantastic officer who had command over the local youth. Talk to anyone he ‘dealt’ with and they’ll say words I can’t repeat here, but to be fair, these guys are the type you need today. They didn’t arrest everyone, but he’d certainly deal with them to a point they didn’t think reoffending was a good idea and ensured the parents were in the loop the whole time. Both Geoff and Nigel, I believe, kept a clean street and clean Fleet.”

INTERVIEW – DAVID COLLINGS

By Ruth Hill

“I served at Fleet Police Station at varying times in my police career. In August 1977 I was transferred from Portsmouth to Fleet in an appointment as a Detective Constable. In 1980 I was appointed to the Northern Drug Squad with an office in Fleet Police Station. I remained on the Drug Squad until 1983 when I transferred back to other Detective Constable duties at another Police Station. Living in the town I have always been associated with and had an affiliation to Fleet Police Station.

In 1995 as a Detective Inspector I was  posted to Aldershot Police Station and my responsibilities took in supervising CID officers serving at Fleet Police Station. In 1997 I moved to other duties. In 2001 I returned to Fleet Police Station as a Detective Inspector to manage a team of officers in what eventually became known as the ‘Serious and Organised Crime Unit’. I remained at Fleet until 2008 when I transferred to another department. I retired from the Force in 2009

On retirement  I continued to work for Hampshire Constabulary as a Police Support Volunteer managing a community voluntary scheme called Hampshire Horsewatch and its police partner Equine Liaison. To undertake this work I worked from Fleet Police Station. Years worked in this role were from 2009 until 2015.

I think I would have served out of Fleet Police Station as a Police Officer for approximately 15 years and as a volunteer 6 years.”

Below: Fleet Police Station pictured in 2009. Photo credit: Google Images.

BEHIND THE SCENES…

“Playing practical jokes on one another was – and may still be – part of police culture. Years ago probationary police officers were often the subject of leg pulling. It was part of being accepted. Back in the 1980’s a sheep had been found and brought into Fleet Police Station. The animal was duly put into the dog kennel whilst enquiries were made to trace its owner. The duty Inspector saw the sheep and ascertained that there was a probationary officer on duty. The officer was summoned and directed to take the sheep out of the kennel and take it for a walk in the back yard of the Police Station in order give it some exercise. The young officer did as he was instructed and walked the sheep around the back yard much to the laughter and amusement of all those who were watching from the canteen window.”

Below: Nature slowly reclaims the Police Station yard. Photo credits: Steve Forster and Ruth Hill.

REMEMBERING IRENE…

David continues: “All stations have their characters. In the 1970’s, early 1980’s Fleet Police Station had a lovely cleaning lady, employed by the Constabulary. This was prior to outsourcing! The lady’s name was Irene. She loved to sing as she worked and the station resounded to her penetrating voice. Sadly Irene’s voice was not as angelic as Susan Boyle but where Irene did excel was in the way she looked after the station (which was always spotless), and her “boys and girls”. Irene made morning and afternoon tea for the station staff and even went as far as making rolls to snack on.

Long after Irene had left, the Inspector in charge of the station decided bring his young puppy in to share his office. This was ostensibly  to allow the puppy to socialise with people. Puppies, like children, need toilet training and after one too many accidents the puppy had to socialise elsewhere.  No doubt Irene would have had something to say on the matter!”

THE CHANGING FACE OF POLICING…

“Effective policing  in any town and era is knowing about what is going on in that area. Policing is basically parochial with local officers knowing their patch. In recent years austerity has undermined that principal with officer numbers being reduced to almost negligible amounts and police stations being closed. Personally I think the closure of police stations has had a detrimental effect of local policing. The public could identify with a police station and those that worked in it. However austerity, supply and demand on policing on an ever increasing number of prioritised crimes, has seen the demise of local policing which on a personal note I do not see being returned to an acceptable level.”

Sadly I believe the public have come to accept that local policing as it was is gone. In the same way banks close and their service has been automated, so too has policing. The ‘feel good’ factor of having a local police station and a credible number of officers to police locally is probably on peoples wish list, however policies, practices and procedures from government transferred down the line to senior management in the police means that local policing will remain minimal.

Fleet Police Station when it opened in 1968 and until its closure in 2016 was a focal point in the town. In the early days officers worked a four shift system, with additional local beat officers in the town. In the rural areas there were beat officers. Officers tended to live in the town and many lived in police houses. Fleet Police Station was known as a ‘Sub Divisional Police Station’ with its own rural section. In turn Fleet was part of a larger division which has for the greater part always included Aldershot, Fleet, Yateley and Farnborough.

Until the mid 1990’s Fleet Police Station had its own CID team comprising of a Detective Sergeant and two Detective Constables. The station had a cell block where offenders were brought to be questioned and held for short durations. In the early days the station was headed up by a Chief Inspector with an Inspector as Deputy. In addition there were Sergeants in charge of the shifts. Gradually over the years the police officer numbers were reduced to a Sergeant and a handful of Constables and Police Community Support Officers. On the closure of the Police Station the police team moved into a small office within the Hart Council Building.

The station was used by many specialist squads over the years but always retained the core element of policing the Neighbourhood Policing scheme. Over the years specialist squads such as Fraud Squad, Drug Squad, Force Crime Unit, Serious and Organised Crime Squad worked from offices within the building.

Fleet Station over the years was home to many different squads and specialists units and not just for local policing.

In the 1970’s the Fleet police community socialised on a regular basis with officers and their families joining in evenings outs, games evenings. Officers participated in local sporting activities such as the Aldershot Mid Week Cricket league.”

STATION CLOSURE

The decision to sign off on the closure and sale of the police station was finalised by the Police and Crime Commissioner on the 6th of August 2014.

STATION FOR SALE

The station was listed for sale before being snapped up by Churchill retirement homes, here we can see the public listings with the details of the site on.

Below: Property listed on commercial sales website showing property under offer. Photo of station is from 2006.

BREAK IN

Sadly when any building or area of land is left unattended and derelict, it is an open invitation to squatters and crime, and back in November 2019 we saw members of the travelling community illegally entering and setting up camp on the site.

The irony of the situation wasn’t lost, as many residents commented about the police who were called out to deal with the situation, attending the station once again, although sadly for all the wrong reasons.

To read the full articles please click below, they will open up in a new window:

Travellers Break into Former Fleet Police Station

Travellers Evicted as Hart Consults on Allowing Permanent Access

Below: Travellers break in to the former Police Station in Crookham Road.

POLICE STATION ARTICLES

All information and articles on our website which features this station or address:

FUTURE PLANS FOR SITE

The planning for the new retirement apartments has now been submitted and the old police station is about to take on a different look and a whole new lease of life placing memories of the former Police Station well and truly into the history books. How very sad.

On Friday 22nd March 2019, Churchill Retirement Homes applied for planning permission to Fleet Town Council.

Below: Agenda from the Fleet Town Council Development Control Committee on Tuesday 23rd April, discussing planning permission to turn Fleet Police Station into retirement apartments.

Below: Hart District Council Planning Application Summary

PHOTO GALLERY

An album of all/any images associated with this station that appears on our website.

To see more images and other occupants of this location, please click the address link(s) above.

Photo credits are listed on the individual images.

(Click on photo to enlarge and scroll through selection)