‘Un­der-used’ cells at po­lice sta­tion to close next March

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

THE cells at Ash­ford po­lice sta­tion are ex­pected to of­fi­cially close next March.

The Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity (KPA) was yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) ex­pected to rub­ber-stamp se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers’ pro­pos­als to close the cus­tody suite.

The de­ci­sion by Kent Po­lice’s top brass was made be­cause the cells are one of the least busy in the county and too ex­pen­sive to run at nearly £200,000 last year.

Po­lice say the suite is nor­mally only half full and re­quired 314 Sergeant and 219 de­ten­tion of­fi­cer shifts to run it dur­ing 2008-9.

Those work­ing at the Ash­ford suite are ex­pected to be re­de­ployed across the county, and, in par­tic­u­lar to Folke­stone.

Po­lice say the clo­sure will also free of­fi­cers to go on the beat.

On av­er­age it takes an hour and a half to book a pris­oner into cus­tody with an of­fi­cer off the streets and be­hind a desk for about four hours fill­ing out pa­per­work.

Chief Con­sta­ble Michael Fuller said in his re­port to the KPA: “The clo­sure of Ash­ford cus­tody suite would al­low staff to be re­de­ployed across the other suites; par­tic­u­larly Folke­stone.

“The re­de­ploy­ment of cus­tody staff would see stream­lin­ing of the de­tainee book­ing-in process, sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in dwell time and pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn staff to front line du­ties quickly.

“The clo­sure is con­fined to the cus­tody suite only and there will be no other im­pact to the lo­cal­ity or diminu­tion of uni­form pa­trol re­sources at the venue. All re­sourc­ing of uni­form pa­trols re­main the same and there will be no re­duc­tion in of­fi­cers pa­trolling the Ash­ford area.”

The eight cells and one de­ten­tion room will be kept should they be needed

The plans have al­ready pro­voked con­cern from Ash­ford MP Damian Green, bor­ough coun­cil­lors and groups such as Char­ing Parish Coun­cil.

Con­cerns

Wide­spread con­cern was ex­pressed when the plan was first re­vealed over the ex­tra time it would take to trans­port pris­on­ers to and from the Folke­stone cus­tody suite.

Ash­ford coun­cil’s safety boss Cllr Michael Claughton (Con), also spoke of his con­cerns over the clo­sure.

He said: “Con­sid­er­ing Ash­ford is a grow­ing area, clos­ing the cus­tody suite would be a ret­ro­grade step. I also share the gen­eral con­cern that it would re­strict the num­ber of ar­rests. It would cause se­ri­ous prob­lems if there was a re­ally ma­jor civil dis­tur­bance.”

Full re­port on the KPA’s de­ci­sion in next week’s pa­per.

Chief Con­sta­ble Michael Fuller

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