Hampshire Chief Constable says he would rather catch criminals than spend money on new Winchester headquarters for the force.

Plans for a new £40 million headquarters for Hampshire Constabulary have been put on hold pending a review of the force’s entire estate.

The Hampshire force had opted for a new HQ at the Alpha Park site in Winchester rather than refurbish its existing building on the city’s Romsey Road. But at a Tuesday meeting of the Hampshire Police Authority, the independent organisation charged with overseeing the work of Hampshire Constabulary, leaders decided to shelve plans for the new site.

Alex Marshall, Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable, said: “In light of the current difficult financial conditions faced by the constabulary, we have to make tough but pragmatic budgetary decisions which will enable us to make the savings required of us, but protect frontline policing.”

The 4,500-strong force is to undergo a review of its building estate, due to report in the autumn. It is understood that the new HQ will be on hold at least until the review is complete.

Marshall said: “Our priority has to be in protecting communities, catching criminals, and ensuring we have a visible and active presence in every neighbourhood, and so we are reviewing our systems and structure across the force to find efficiencies whilst maintaining our strength in these vital areas.

“Reviewing our estates strategy including the move to Alpha Park has to be part of that.”