Police station to close its cells in a bid to save cash
THE cells at Ashford police station will definitely close next March.
Kent Police Authority (KPA) last week gave its backing to senior police officers’ proposals to close the station’s 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.
Ann Barnes, KPA chairman, said: “The Chief Constable and I visited the Kent Association of Local Councils meeting to discuss this issue and we have both taken on board the comments from local residents.”
When news first emerged earlier this year that the custody suite was under threat it provoked an outcry from councillors and parish councils.
Mrs Barnes added: “The force has learnt a lot of lessons in how it has handled the closure. Authority members unanimously agreed to the closure on the basis that the force reports back to our members on financial savings and creates an improved communication and consultation plan.”
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 up 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.
In his report to the KPA outlining the reasons for closure, Chief Constable Michael Fuller said: “The closure of Ashford custody suite would allow staff to be redeployed across the other suites; particularly Folkestone.
Ann Barnes, chairman of the Kent Police Authority
Ashford Police Station