City businesses and a police force have unveiled plans for a privately funded police station.
The move by Liverpool Business Improvement District (BID) has been described as a “landmark partnership” between local firms and Merseyside Police.
A city centre retail unit has been given to the force, with the rent paid by the businesses for the next three years.
The “cop shop” is kitted out by Land Securities, which owns the site at the city’s St Johns Shopping Centre.
Liverpool’s BID, which represents 630 businesses, said it is the first privately funded police station in the country and that it will save taxpayers around £50,000 a year.
Officials say it will make it easier for people to report crimes and provide quick responses to incidents such as lost children.
Ged Gibbons, chief executive of BID, said: “This is what can be achieved when public and private sector work together. It will save council tax payers approximately £50,000 a year while offering them a direct point of contact with police in the heart of Liverpool city centre for the first time in more than two years.”
Chief Inspector Louise Harrison, of Merseyside Police, said: “Although there has always been dedicated officers for the city centre, after speaking with residents and visitors we recognised that there was a need for a police base there, for easy reporting and a highly visible police presence.”
Ian Ward, Land Securities’ centre director for St Johns Shopping Centre, said: “We have been working in partnership with the police and the BID team for around six months on this project so we are delighted to finally be able to announce the opening of the new station in St Johns early next year.
“Land Securities has agreed to provide the police with a fully fitted-out unit where visitors will be able to have access to this additional public service right in the heart of the city centre.”