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NZ's oldest police station closes

Tuesday 19 Feb 2013 5:21 p.m.

One of the oldest police stations in the country has closed its cells for the last time today as Christchurch police move the last of its prisoners in to the new purpose built temporary facility.

The closure ends nearly 140 years of police presence on the Hereford St site.

“It's saying goodbye to a fair bit of history to be honest – there's a lot of history in this building,” says Inspector Bryan Buck.

The city's first stone police station was built in 1873, and was replaced by the present one, which opened 100 years later.

The busy operation of fielding emergency calls, public enquiries and dispatching patrols has now been moved to the new station.

“I walked through the old comms room the other day. It's just eerily quiet with no one in there,” says dog handler Senior Constable Bruce Lamb.

Police say the shift is a precautionary measure because of concerns the building wouldn't withstand another major earthquake.

“It was starting to have a bit of an air of decay about it with bits and pieces falling off walls and plaster coming down,” says Snr Const Lamb.

So Christchurch police have moved into a new $22 million purpose-built temporary facility, which opened last week.

It will accommodate up to 500 police staff until another more permanent station goes up in the central city’s new Justice Sector precinct.

“I think there will be some regrets about moving. It's a new environment though. I guess it's the start of a new city, so it's time to move on,” says Insp Buck.

Sixteen dog handlers and 20 dogs will stay on in the courtyard area until next week, before the doors are locked for good and a piece of policing history is demolished.

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