FENLAND: Health and safety fears force closure of Wisbech Police Station cells to prisoners
PUBLISHED: 17:03 14 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:50 02 June 2010
EXCLUSIVE by: TOM JACKSON PRISONERS are no longer to be kept overnight in Wisbech after health and safety fears prompted the closure of the six cells at the town s police station. If planners agree a new, prefabricated custody suite will be built in the g
EXCLUSIVE by: TOM JACKSON
PRISONERS are no longer to be kept overnight in Wisbech after health and safety fears prompted the closure of the six cells at the town's police station.
If planners agree a new, prefabricated custody suite will be built in the grounds of March Police Station to accommodate Fenland prisoners.
The extra 10 cells at March will remain in use until a new state of the art complex opens in Kings Lynn in a partnership between Fenland and West Norfolk police.
"Wisbech Police Station is a very old building and, as risk assessment and safety becomes a higher priority, the restrictions on the building have not allowed us to bring them up to a satisfactory standard," said Wisbech sector inspector Robin Sissons.
"We have made efforts to improve their environment but it's not enough. The cells have a limited amount of natural sunlight and the steep stairs down to them are deemed to be unsafe when escorting resistant prisoners."
One of the station's six cells, used for youths, has already become a storage room after inspectors found a number of hazards inside - including a possibility that someone could hang themselves from a door hinge.
Police say they have tried to bring the cells up to standards, but have now decided a re-locating prisoners to March Police Station is the best option.
The cells in Wisbech are currently used daily but soon they will only be used on magistrates' court days to house defendants on remand.
The conditions of the Cambridgeshire police station cells have been raised as an issue by volunteers on Cambridgeshire Police Authority's independent custody visiting scheme.
"The difficulties associated with maintaining these heavily-used and in some cases ageing facilities is recognised by the authority, however the acquisition of new purpose-built custody facilities is being pursued," says a report to the police authority.
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