WISBECH: Deputy chief constable explains why cells at town's police station have to close
THE deputy chief constable of Cambridgeshire has stepped into the row over the condition of cells at Wisbech and insisted the force had no option but to bring about their closure. John Feavyour said: The cells at Wisbech are not up to standard. The bott
THE deputy chief constable of Cambridgeshire has stepped into the row over the condition of cells at Wisbech and insisted the force had no option but to bring about their closure.
John Feavyour said: "The cells at Wisbech are not up to standard. The bottom line is I need to improve facilities for detainees over that side of the county."
Problems with the cells at Wisbech were first spotlighted in a report to the Cambridgeshire Police Authority eight years ago.
Now Cambs Police hope to use a new custody suite being built by Norfolk Police in Kings Lynn but in the meantime, because of delays to that project, build extra temporary cells at March.
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Although the new cells planned for March are temporary, Mr Feavyour hinted they may be used as additional holding facilities for some years to come.
"They are a modular construction planned for March," he said. "We'll crane them in and the units come with a potential 25 year life cycle."
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Getting them open quickly will enable Wisbech cells to close, but he insisted only a handful of custody staff are likely to need to move to Lynn.
He said Kings Lynn offered the chance to provide safe, secure facilities in a modern custody suite that will also ensure a smoother processing of prisoners.
However it's unlikely all Fenland prisoners will go to Lynn, those arrested in Whittlesey, for instance, may be detained in Peterborough, he said.
The eight year old report which spotlighted the condition of cells at Wisbech, also suggested that Cambridgeshire magistrates may be considering the future of courts in the town.
Since the magistrates own the building, said Mr Feavyour, that decision was down to them but he had heard nothing to suggest this was still a possibility.
Nick Clarke, an independent member of the police authority, said the tie up with Lynn was not taking place simply to save money.
"The fact is the cells at Wisbech are not fit for purpose," he said.
He claimed that the campaign by Stephen Barclay, the prospective Parliamentary Conservative candidate for NE Cambs, had joined the closure of cells with a possible threat to the future of the town's police station and that was simply not the way it worked.