Custody suite is ... open for business!
IT HAS been years in the planning.
Now a new custody suite in Hull has finally opened its cell doors.
The 40-cell centre, based in the new £30m divisional headquarters in Clough Road, opened this week.
Less than two hours after opening, the first prisoner was brought in on suspicion of shoplifting.
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In the first 48 hours of the suite being open, 56 prisoners had been checked in.
Superintendent Mark Johansson, head of operations in Hull, said: "It has brought a smile to everyone's face because it makes all of our lives so much easier.
"It really is a great, state-of-the-art facility, which will make us more efficient and more effective.
"It is now business as usual."
The new police station was built after the cells at Queens Gardens were condemned for not being up to Home Office guidelines several years ago.
That led to the force looking at building a new custody suite, which developed into the new station.
The cells at Queens Gardens have now closed. A 20-cell custody facility at Priory Road police station will remain open.
Supt Johansson, who worked as a custody sergeant at the station in the 1990s, said: "Queens Gardens has had its day. As poky and horrid as it was, I loved my time there. But it was not fit for purpose.
"Custody is one of the last teams to move into the new station. Having everyone under one roof makes it so much easier and more efficient.
"As a superintendent, I often have to make decisions about extending the time we keep someone in custody for.
"Previously, I would have to travel to Priory Road and back, whereas now I can just pop downstairs and have it done in 20 minutes. It just saves so much time.
"With Priory staying open, it also expands our cell capacity in the city to 60 cells. If we fill all the cells at Clough Road, we have another 20 cells we can use."
The new custody suite includes four blocks of ten cells, interview rooms, medical facilities, as well as space for forensic teams to carry out fingerprinting, examinations and take photographs.
The entire area is covered by a control room, which gives CCTV coverage of the entire space.
Technology will allow prisoners to speak to their solicitors through systems in their cells, rather than being escorted to telephones by police officers.
When prisoners arrive at the station, they will be seen by a "triage" officer – similar to the accident and emergency department of a hospital – before being booked in.
"The most important thing is to provide a safe environment for the prisoner. Although they are suspects, we have to a job to do to keep them safe," said Supt Johansson.
"It means we will provide a better service to suspects, which will also lead to a better service for the public."