Police cells in car park

WHILE Ipswich is seeing a boom in desirable properties being built, there is unlikely to be a queue to get into the very latest town centre accommodation.

WHILE Ipswich is seeing a boom in desirable properties being built, there is unlikely to be a queue to get into the very latest town centre accommodation.

Bugeoning arrest rates are today forcing Ipswich police to seek permission to build temporary cells in their own back yard - offering a short-term stay for up to seven guests of Her Majesty.

The town's police station may not be the most wanted location for bed and breakfast, but an increasing demand has led to very few vacancies for those requiring an overnight stay.

Now, senior officers have been forced to come up with a solution to a problem that has often left the custody suite full and officers taken off the streets to move prisoners elsewhere.

Full planning permission is being sought from the borough council to install a modular custody cell unit at the rear of the Elm Street station for the next five years.

The growing demand was illustrated by the Christmas 'Lock 'em Inn' zero-tolerance campaign which cracked down on anti-social and drink-related crime in the town centre.

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At times the number of arrests during the operation left the station stretched when it came to finding cells for prisoners.

Ipswich sector commander chief inspector Alan Caton said: “Ipswich police station currently has the capacity to hold 15 prisoners.

“Our busiest periods tend to be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, equally during operations and campaigns such as the alcohol-misuse enforcement campaign and high profile football matches our prisoner handling facilities are frequently stretched and we often have to transport prisoners to the outlying police stations which takes officers off the streets.

“The numbers of people being arrested year-on-year are increasing and it has been necessary to look to provide additional cell capacity at Ipswich."

Despite the temporary nature of the building Ch Insp Caton stressed it would be robust enough for its needs.

He said: "Suffolk Constabulary constantly reviews its estate to ensure its premises are sufficient for the current policing demands."

"In the case of Ipswich police station, the constabulary is currently looking at the option to increase cell capacity by locating a modular building next to the current cell block to provide seven additional cells and an interview room. The building would be built to Home Office design standards, which will ensure it will be robust and secure.

"This expansion is expected to be a temporary measure until the PFI (Public Finance Initiative) Ipswich custody project is completed in 2009/2010."

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