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New custody centres open by July 2010

PUBLISHED: 09:01 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:26 03 July 2010

NORFOLK and Suffolk police have taken a major step forward in their bid to build new custody and investigation centres to relieve the pressure on the region's cells.

NORFOLK and Suffolk police have taken a major step forward in their bid to build new custody and investigation centres to relieve the pressure on the region's cells.

The two forces have selected their preferred candidate to build the police investigation centres at Wymondham, Aylsham, Gorleston, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and King's Lynn.

On busy nights cells in key areas regularly become full meaning detainees have to be transported to nearby towns. The scheme will ensure an even spread of cells and a consistent standard of facilities.

Project manager Peter Belson said: “Our priority is to deliver first class policing services. After a rigorous process it was decided Justice Support Services would help us achieve that most efficiently and effectively.

“The police investigation centres will help us meet the requirements and needs of modern policing in Norfolk and Suffolk. As part of that process we will be looking at our working practices ensuring we put people are at the heart of everything we do.”

It is the first major collaboration between Norfolk and Suffolk police after they agreed to look at ways they could work more closely together when the Home Office's proposed force merged collapsed two years ago. This will be followed by the establishment of a joint major investigation team covering both counties in April 2009.

The project has been underway for almost four years and originally included Cambridgeshire police who have since abandoned plans to work with the two counties.

It will be completed using the private finance initiative, which sees a company cover the initial construction cost before leasing the facilities back to the police.

A spokesman confirmed that the two chief constables and their police authorities had chosen Justice Support Services to take the project on. Construction will be carried out by Kier Construction which has bases at Wisbech and Norwich.

The centres will accommodate police officers, staff and investigators. Suspects will be held there in custody for questioning. The forces have pledged the new investigation centres will be among the most up to-date in the country.

Norfolk and Suffolk decided to work together because “all public services are under pressure to deliver more for the same or less and collaboration provides both Constabularies with an opportunity to do this”.

Mr Belson said the final details should be organised by May 2009 and the new centres should be build and ready to open by July 2010.

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