WISBECH: MP Malcolm Moss launches campaign to halt closure of cells at police station
A CAMPAIGN was launched today by MP Malcolm Moss to halt the closure of cells at Wisbech Police Station which he fears could ultimately threaten policing in the Fens. Mr Moss claims the plans, announced by Cambs Police, to move the cells temporarily to Ma
A CAMPAIGN was launched today by MP Malcolm Moss to halt the closure of cells at Wisbech Police Station which he fears could ultimately threaten policing in the Fens.
Mr Moss claims the plans, announced by Cambs Police, to move the cells temporarily to March and then to a new purpose built police HQ in King's Lynn, "have simply not been thought through".
He's tabled a series of parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State of Justice and to the Home Office in a bid to halt the proposals.
Last week Stephen Barclay, the candidate chosen by the Conservatives to replace Mr Moss who is standing down at the next election, raised fears that closure of cells at Wisbech was part of a wider bid to switch officers to Norfolk.
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Mr Barclay claimed that up to 30 police jobs -including custody officers, CID and a serious crime squad- could move to the new police headquarters at Lynn.
On Monday, and following revelations by this newspaper, Cambs Police rallied to the defence of the cells move claiming those at Wisbech were nearing the end of their useful life.
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"The fabric of the cells is poor, expensive to maintain and new cells are urgently needed," said a spokesman. He confirmed talks had been ongoing with Norfolk Police for sometime that would see shared use of a new purpose built custody suite on the western outskirts of Lynn.
"The transfer of the custody function to a new King's Lynn facility will not impact on the numbers of police officers or PCSOs who police Wisbech and the surrounding area" said the spokesman.
Only those officers and civilian detention officers who look after detainees would transfer and these anyway are not staff the public would in any event come into contact with.
Sharing costly cells with Norfolk was cost effective and provides "increased resilience and economies of scale in staffing both constabularies. At this time there are no plans to base CID or the major crime department in King's Lynn".
Mr Moss claimed, however, that Cambs Police were trying to move to Lynn "by stealth. Last week the proposed closure of the cells in Wisbech was claimed as an unavoidable health and safety issue due to Home Office guidelines.
"Having tabled a number of Parliamentary questions on this matter, we now have a statement that the decision is being taken for cost grounds."
Mr Barclay described the cells move as "half baked" and claimed that the closure of Ely magistrates' court did not help the retention of Wisbech magistrates' court.
Mr Moss is now asking Government ministers about the future of the magistrates' bench in Wisbech and asking specific questions about any cells elsewhere that might have been closed for health and safety reasons.
He also wants to know what talks, if any, have taken place about cross border working between Cambs and Norfolk Police and/or collaboration involving Wisbech and King's Lynn police stations.
A PETITION calling for the retention of cells at Wisbech is being launched on Saturday.
Stephen Barclay, prospective Parliamentary Conservative candidate for NE Cambs, will be with helpers in Wisbech Market Place from 10.30am to collect signatures.
The petition says policing in Fenland could be threatened if the cells move to King's Lynn.