Cells ‘fit for purpose’ at new custody suite

The Bonny Street cells

The Bonny Street cells

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Blackpool’s top cop has promised the resort’s police cells will finally be fit for purpose when the resort’s new police HQ opens.

The town’s Bonny Street police station was heavily criticised by HM inspector of prisons earlier this year.

But a brand new custody suite is being built as part of the resorts brand new £21m police base due to open in Clifton Road in 2018.

Last month’s report by Martin Lomas, deputy chief inspector of prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM inspector of constabulary, described the Bonny Street facilities as ‘dilapidated’.

The report said: “The interior was showing its age and looked dilapidated. The low ceilings and dark floors created a dark and oppressive environment. There was peeling paint on some of the walls and floors, and the cells did not meet current safety standards. Scraps of paper were used to cover the viewing panel in the cell doors to give detainees some privacy, including from other detainees, which contributed to the unkempt environment. Open drains on corridors were full of stagnant water.

“Ten prefabricated cells had been added to the custody suite structure – these were clean and more comfortable and safer for detainees.”

At the time the criticism was accepted by Lancashire Police.

Work has now begun on that building and Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble made clear the transformation of custody facilities would be one of the biggest changes.

He said: “This is going to make a real difference.

“We recognise there are issues at Bonny Street – a facility that was designed and built in the 1970s.

“This will give us a modern custody facility, one that allows us to handle people safely and securely.

“It really will be the absolute opposite to what we have now. We have a duty of care to the people who come into custody and this facility will improve how we can provide that.”

The Bonny Street custody suite is built on an old-fashioned race track concept.

There is not a clear line of site from the desk where officers work to all of the cells.

Lighting is poor in some areas and there remains evidence of open drains which were included when the cells were built.

The new cells will be lighter, brighter and arranged to give officers a clear view of all offenders, reducing the risk to those in custody.