FENLAND: Police authority chairman says violent prisoner threat real reason for cells closure
PUBLISHED: 17:10 23 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:54 02 June 2010
BASEMENT cells at a Fenland police station are to close because of fears that violent prisoners may pose a health and safety risk going up and down the stairs. Cambridgeshire Police Authority chairman Keith Walters said of the cells at Wisbech Police Stat
BASEMENT cells at a Fenland police station are to close because of fears that violent prisoners may pose a health and safety risk going up and down the stairs.
Cambridgeshire Police Authority chairman Keith Walters said of the cells at Wisbech Police Station: "Put simply, they are not fit for purpose."
He said: "Moving detainees that are sometimes struggling violently up and down stairs such as the ones at Wisbech poses a significant risk both to officers and detainees."
Mr Walters was responding to questions raised by Malcolm Moss, MP for NE Cambs and Stephen Barclay, the constituency's prospective Parliamentary Tory candidate.
"The main reason that the stairs are unfit for purpose is that they are narrow and steep. "The type of detainees that Her Majesty's Court Service use the cells for are considerably more compliant than some of the detainees police wish to hold there."
A temporary replacement cell block is now under construction at March, Cambridgeshire, but in the next two years Fenland prisoners will be housed in new cells being built at Kings Lynn.
Mr Walters refuted suggestions by Mr Moss and Mr Barclay that this signalled a move by Cambs Police to share more services with neighbouring Norfolk Police Authority.
"This is categorically not the case," he said. "It is proposed that only the custody facility is moved to a joint facility in Kings Lynn."
Mr Barclay described the response as disappointing and claimed it missed the central point about what will happen to the prisoner handler team based at Wisbech.
"Will these police officers move to Kings Lynn or be re-assigned to other duties in Wisbech?" he said. "Will detectives based in Wisbech have to travel to Kings Lynn to interview prisoners, which will make them less able to respond quickly to emergency incidents in Fenland?
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