A GROUND-BREAKING ceremony has seen construction work officially start on a multi-million pound police force headquarters.

Spades were struck into land at Hemlington Grange, near Middlesbrough, to begin its transformation to become Cleveland Police’s new home.

The estimated £20m policing centre has been named as the Community Safety Hub which incorporates day-to-day police operations alongside meeting space for residents in the force area.

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Cleveland Police Chief Constable Iain Spittal and Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger were joined by Viewley Hill Primary School pupils and Esh Build apprentices for yesterday’s ceremony.

Mr Coppinger said: “We are now realising our vision of a 21st century hub, which will equip our people with the right technology and investment to deliver excellent policing and community safety services.

“This building, and the work from it, will benefit communities across Teesside for years to come.

“It will be the epicentre of contact with the public, and is much more cost effective than the current policing headquarters at Ladgate Lane.”

Cleveland Police agreed to sell its current headquarters in 2015 after running costs for its 1970s base ran up to £1m per year.

The “purpose-built” Community Safety Hub is expected to recoup annual savings of £200,000.

Iain Spittal said: “Not only are we building a state-of-the-art hub, but we are building a legacy for future generations, so I’m pleased that the local schoolchildren and apprentices are able to join us for the official ground-breaking.

“The Community Safety Hub will be a fantastic base for our officers and staff to manage major incidents and key policing operations to keep people safe from harm.”

Cleveland Police chiefs first revealed plans to leave Ladgate Lane seven years ago.

Paul Redman, Esh Build divisional director, said: “We’ll make sure the build process has a positive knock-on effect in the community through apprenticeships, skills workshops in local schools and partnerships with the local supply chain.

“Esh Build is skilled at delivering specialist projects for emergency services operators and our partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner and Cleveland Police is important to us.”