Po­lice sta­tion to close its cells in a bid to save cash

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

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

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