Police to get new investigation centres

BUILDING work on a �60million network of new police investigation centres across East Anglia, including two in Suffolk, will start within days.

The centres will replace outdated and often overcrowded cells in police stations with dedicated modern facilities, which bring investigations staff together under one roof.

Following the construction of the custody suites, prisoners will no longer be taken to various stations in towns around Suffolk.

There will only be two sets of custody cells in future, based in Bury St Edmunds and at Martlesham Heath police headquarters.

A total of 146 cells will be constructed at the two Suffolk sites and Gorleston, Wymondham, King’s Lynn and Aylsham, with the two county’s police forces working together on two of the centres.

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Cambridgeshire police will take detainees to King’s Lynn, although the centre will be manned by Norfolk officers.

There will be a joint management structure for all six police investigation centres (PIC’s), and they will operate the same systems, policies, practices and procedures, which are scheduled to be introduced in May 2010.

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Chief Inspector Roger Wiltshire said: “The aim is for custody staff to be as self-sufficient as possible to minimise officers’ time away from frontline policing. The creation of new police investigation centres will help the Norfolk and Suffolk commitment to provide local people with an efficient and effective police service.”

Carl Puiy, head of custody for Suffolk and project director for the new custody suites, said: “The police investigation centres will look and work the same, so no matter which one you go into you will know where to go and what the procedures and practices will be.

“We are looking at staffing, training, medical services, interpreters, partner agencies, interview recording, policies and procedures, uniform and equipment. This is a golden opportunity to meet 21st century demands by providing smarter, more efficient and time-effective ways of processing detainees.”

The police forces have been working on the project for several years but have now identified all of the sites and will begin building work after Home Office approval was granted.

The building work will be carried out under the private finance initiative. In recent years the forces have worked more closely together in a bid to save money.

Construction is due to start this week and buildings should open during next year.

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