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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 17:13 GMT
Police college to cost extra 50m
Members of the PSNI
Training will start at the centre in 2009
Northern Ireland's new police training college is to cost 50m more than first expected.

The academy, to be built on a 270-acre site near Cookstown, County Tyrone, will not now be completed until 2009 - a year later than anticipated.

When the project was announced in February 2004 the total price was estimated at about 80m.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton said land costs, fees and changes to the original plan caused the rise.

"There will be nothing like it in Europe or America," he said.

"It will be so state-of-the-art it will attract a lot of interest."

A revised business case has been sent to the Treasury in a bid to secure the finances needed for construction to begin within 12 months.

It contains details on 300 accommodation rooms, a specially erected village for public order training, and a decontamination unit to prepare for biological or chemical attack.

A train carriage, aircraft fuselage and on-site bank to simulate hijackings and robberies have also been included in the blueprint.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton
DCC Paul Leighton said the cost rise was not major

The Patten Commission recommended that a new state-of-the-art academy should be built to replace the present college at Garnerville in east Belfast.

Mr Leighton headed a team including Government and Policing Board representatives that examined facilities across the British Isles and North America.

The Desertcreat site, beside the Loughry food science centre, was chosen as the location in February 2004.

But after bringing in professional consultants, the plans were reviewed to include more specifications.

Mr Leighton said the original bill did not include the cost of buying the land, and fees for architectural work, wildlife, archaeological and heritage surveys.

"The cost in the last quarter of 2006 when the tender is to be let out is around 134m," he said.

"It's not a major rise when you take building inflation into account."

Barry Gilligan, a property developer and Policing Board representative on the college project, said the actual costs have only risen by 8% after adjustments for oversights.

"The product has changed so dramatically that, in my opinion and the unanimous opinion of the Policing Board, we are getting a significantly better product for the additional costs," he said.

"No college we visited will have the comprehensive range of facilities we are going to end up with here.

"We see them being shared by other police services not only throughout the British Isles, but elsewhere. We are going to end up with a centre of excellence in police training."

As well as the PSNI's annual intake of 440 new recruits, the academy is to be heavily used by serving officers.

Fire Service investigators, ambulance response teams, bank staff and domestic violence specialists will also be able to use the facilities.

The scheme, which involves the largest ever public-private finance initiative ever undertaken in the province, is expected to deliver a big economic and employment boost to the Mid-Ulster area.

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