The new police station in Watford town centre officially opened on Friday, February 9.
Officers and staff made the move to their new home in George Street in December last year, saying goodbye to the former police station on Shady Lane which had been their base since 1940.
On Friday morning, Chief Constable Charlie Hall and Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd hosted the ceremony which marked a milestone in Watford’s policing history. Guest of honour, the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Robert Voss CBE, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
Also present were the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Liz Green, Policing Minister Rt Hon Chris Philp MP, Dean Russell MP for Watford, Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor, and many of the town’s key community partners.
The new building on George Street is a stone’s throw from the town centre, and much closer to the High Street than the former police station on Shady Lane. It was acquired by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd in late 2021, after the Shady Lane site had reached the end of its economic life and was beginning to require costly maintenance.
The building on George Street has undergone a full internal and external refit to meet the demands of modern-day policing and, importantly for the public, it retains a front counter service.
Mr Lloyd said: “The opening of this new station is a positive step for those living and working in Watford. It also ensures officers and staff will benefit from having modern fit-for-purpose facilities.
“It was crucial for public confidence and effective policing of the area to find a suitable property which maintains a police station in the town centre.
“The location means it is close to the High Street ensuring officer foot patrols can be conducted easily, while it is also close to the ring road enabling a rapid vehicle response.”
Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “Our move to George Street is the latest chapter in the story of Watford’s policing history, and it’s wonderful to see how the redevelopment work has given the building a new lease of life.
“I’d like to publicly thank all those involved in seamlessly organising and executing the transfer here from Shady Lane, as moving 170 officers and staff is no mean feat.
“There has been a police station in Watford since 1841, and now this project is complete, we’ll be here to serve the community alongside our partners for many more years to come.”
Lord-Lieutenant Robert Voss said: “I was delighted to open Watford’s new police station in George Street today, as one of my predecessors Sir George Burns did in Shady Lane 45 years ago. As policing has changed over the last four decades, it is so important that the largest and most populated town in the county has a modern and efficient police station fit for purpose whilst also being accessible to the community. The new premises in George Street are just that and allow the policing of Watford to be very much 21st century.”
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Historical Society has ensured that a few pieces of Shady Lane’s history have been preserved in the form of a witness box from the old courthouse, as well as an art-deco light fitting and clock from one of the court rooms. These have since been installed in the top-floor conference room at George Street as a nostalgic reminder of the past.
During the ceremony, several people were recognised for their part in the move from Shady Lane to George Street. Inspector Matt Curnow and Sergeant Matt Hardy were instrumental in successfully moving the policing teams into their new home at the end of last year. They were both presented with Head of Department commendations as recognition of their dedication and hard work.
In addition, PC Myles Thorne was awarded a Good Work Minute for his assistance with the move. Watford’s Chief Inspector Andy Wiseman was also presented with an award by the Chief Constable for his role in leading the transition from the old station to new.
However, the smallest person to be presented with an award was the young son of a PCSO who sought help for a retired officer who was taken ill during an open day event at Shady Lane last month.
Five year old Lawrence Jacob, son of PCSO Steve Jacob, attended the event for current and retired police officers with his Dad on Saturday 2 December, where Watford Chief Inspector Andy Wiseman gave a talk about the rich history of the site.
Lawrence was the first one to raise the alarm when a retired Chief Inspector collapsed, and thanks to his quick-thinking medical help was swiftly arranged. The retired officer has since made a full recovery, and was able to attend the opening ceremony event today to thank Lawrence in person.