New police centre runs into opposition

PROPOSALS for a new police investigation centre at the force's Martlesham headquarters are set to be thrown out by community leaders after nearly 300 protests from nearby residents.

PROPOSALS for a new police investigation centre at the force's Martlesham headquarters are set to be thrown out by community leaders after nearly 300 protests from nearby residents.

The custody suite for dealing with people arrested in connection with crime will feature 36 cells and serve the Ipswich area.

But a report to councillors reveals there have so far been 288 letters of “strong objection”, four other letters concerned over some aspects of the scheme, plus objections from Martlesham Parish Council, and Kesgrave High School worried vulnerable young children could be put at risk as a result of prisoners or suspects being released into the community.

Residents' objections include destruction of woodland, lack of need for the facility as existing police stations could be upgraded, and the development too close to homes and will create noise nuisance.

The biggest fear is that detainees released from the unit would be left to wander into Martlesham Heath, Old Martlesham and Kesgrave.

In a report to members of Suffolk Coastal's south area development control sub committee, case officer Martin Price said police investigation facilities are currently provided at police stations throughout Suffolk.

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“Many of those police stations lie in close proximity to dwellings and there is no evidence to suggest that the occupiers of those dwellings have been, or are at risk from criminal activity simply because of their location close to a police station,” he said.

“Indeed, it may be argued that a police presence in the area will in fact reduce the likely risk of criminal activity.

“The police have made it clear that in many instances those that are being interviewed will not be guilty of any offence.

“They also advise that in each case a risk assessment will be undertaken before a detainee is released, as to whether that person should be escorted home, collected by friends/relatives or allowed to make their own way home.”

The sub committee though is recommended to refuse the project because of the loss of trees and impact on homes nearby.

Police said Martlesham Heath was the most appropriate location because of finance available, operational requirements, travel times from arrests, security, access to the road network, public transport links, planning and environmental issues, and land availability.

Is Martlesham suitable for the centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk