CHILDREN from Greenmeadow Primary School’s Heddlu Bach unit have cut the sod at the site of Gwent Police’s new headquarters, officially marking the start of construction.

The new police HQ in Llantarnam, Cwmbran will be home to the control room, which is the first point of contact for calls to the force, alongside major crime teams, training functions, support services and senior management.

It is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021.

“We need to ensure that our facilities are up to the challenges of modern policing," Chief Constable Pam Kelly said. “Our new headquarters will allow us to utilise new technology and cutting edge approaches to provide the best possible support to our frontline teams, helping them to serve the people of Gwent to the best of their ability.”

The new HQ is estimated to make about a £1.1million year-on-year saving, due to lower running costs than the current site in Croesyceiliog.

It will be half the size of the existing headquarters, and will provide space for around 480 police officers and staff.

Gwent's police and crime commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “I am delighted to see construction work begin on the new headquarters, which marks the first phase in our strategy to improve police facilities across Gwent.

“The new facility will deliver a hub that is fit for the purpose of modern policing, utilising new technology and up-to-date working practices to help officers and staff; [and will] safeguard and reassure the public.”

BAM Construction in Wales led the design stage of the project and is the main contractor for the new headquarters. Planning permission for the 5,178sqm building was approved last year, and there will be a phased move from the existing headquarters into the new one.