New £17m custody suite a ‘significant’ benefit to Nottinghamshire Police

The new custody suite in Radford Road. Credit Nottinghamshire Police.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

The new £17m custody suite opened in Nottingham has offered a “significant benefit” to Nottinghamshire Police but it’s “too early” to say how much cash it has saved the force.

This was the message of Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, and her team as they revealed the new suite, based in Radford Road, is helping the force to handle prisoners more efficiently.

Mrs Henry (Con) and members of her office spoke during a police and crime panel meeting on Wednesday (September 21) to confirm the state-of-the-art custody suite is outperforming its predecessor, the Bridewell Custody Suite.

The ‘old and decaying’ former custody suite, near Canal Street in the city centre, closed in September last year to make way for the new facility in a bid to save the organisation money long-term.

And, while the force does not yet have a number for how much it has been saved almost exactly one year on since the new site opened, Mrs Henry and her office have said it is proving its worth.

The 50-cell facility was created to offer a better environment for staff and detainees and also to provide efficiencies in the judiciary process.

The building includes interview rooms, consultation booths and office facilities for staff, with anybody arrested in the city or south Nottinghamshire transported to the new facility.

It also has rooms for people with autism, young people, people will disabilities and those experiencing episodes of mental ill-health.

Since it opened on September 29 last year, the force says the cost of running the facility has “significantly reduced in comparison to Bridewell”.

This includes greater efficiency for detainee handover, allowing officers to “get back out on the street”, while other savings include reduced energy costs through solar roof installations.

And, while Mrs Henry’s office says it is too early to put an exact figure on cost savings, an ongoing report into the first year in operations is expected to outline exactly how much cash the organisation has saved.

Speaking during the crime panel meeting, Craig Guildford, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, also explained some of the energy-saving benefits of the custody suite.

He told councillors: “Overall, the quantum on fuel [costs] doesn’t go anywhere near the savings we’ve achieved and the operational benefits of having a really good custody suite.”

Other benefits from the new facility include increased reliability and availability of on-site electronic equipment, including CCTV, intercoms and ventilation.

And Sharon Caddell, chief executive and monitoring officer at Mrs Henry’s office, says it has increased capacity, capability and safety within the custody suites.

An improved room layout across the facility, she adds, has provided a “new, clean and modern environment” which is “impacting positively on the wellbeing of staff and detainees”.

But on finances, she told councillors: “It’s too early to put cash figures against the benefits that have been realised because that piece of work is still ongoing, but it’s something we have certainly been keeping an eye on.”

Councillor Toby Neal (Lab), Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for housing and human resources, was substituting on the committee and represents the Berridge ward.

He said: “The new custody suite sits in my ward and I was on the [city council] planning committee when we voted this through.

“There were significant concerns about this and there were things in the process that could be better, but from a community point of view now, I actually quite like seeing that number of police cars in the area.

“It is a significant benefit to the area in terms of use of land and confidence within the community, being around the site when it was opened it does look impressive and deals with issues at the Bridewell.”

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