A NEW police headquarters will open its doors on Teesside in the New Year.

Cleveland Chief Constable Sean Price attended a topping-out ceremony of the £6m new Langbaurgh district headquarters yesterday.

Referring to the force's motto, he said: "A key part of Putting People First is providing the right facilities to allow officers and staff to deliver the best possible service to the public. These new facilities will allow us to provide that service to the communities of Redcar and Cleveland in the most cost-effective way.''

The new building will be a base for more than 100 staff and will include a modern custody suite, with cells designed for monitoring vulnerable individuals, a drug-testing room and a unit designed for handling major incidents.

The base has been built on the Kirkleatham Business Park, on the edge of Redcar, under a private finance initiative.

It will not only be a headquarters for the district management team and a base for both uniformed officers and detectives, it will also be used by members of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's community safety team.

Councillor Dave McLuckie, chairman of the Cleveland Police Authority, said: "This development is very good news indeed for communities in east Cleveland. It means we should be able to significantly improve the co-ordination of policing in an area which has a mix of both closely-knit urban areas and rural towns and villages.

"The more efficiently we can operate our services, the more resources we can make available for front-line policing.''

He added: "At a time when we are involved in a major effort to prevent the policing of east Cleveland and the rest our area being handed over to a single, massive North-East structure, stretching up the Scottish border, what this development clearly underlines is the importance of having a local force and police authority which understands - and responds to - the needs of local people.''

The new Langbaurgh district headquarters is part of a multi-million pound programme to give the force modern, well-equipped facilitities. It will include a new district headquarters for Middlesbrough and new town offices at Redcar and South Bank.