Police investigation centre set for town
IPSWICH is set to get multi-million pound police investigation centre within three years, The Evening Star can reveal today.The centre, with 45 cells, is set to be built on land at the edge of the Ransomes Europark industrial estate, beyond the Courtyard by Marriott hotel and Medite House shipping offices beside the A14.
IPSWICH is set to get multi-million pound police investigation centre within three years, The Evening Star can reveal today.
The centre, with 45 cells, is set to be built on land at the edge of the Ransomes Europark industrial estate, beyond the Courtyard by Marriott hotel and Medite House shipping offices beside the A14.
The nearest homes will be some way away on the Ravenswood development.
It will replace the cells and investigation rooms at police stations across the south of Suffolk, holding prisoners for up to six to seven hours and will be one of nine built in the region.
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Built and owned by a company under the terms of the government's private finance initiative (PFI) it would be leased to the new Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire Police Authority which will be formed by the merger of the three county forces within the next two years.
Ipswich council's planning and development committee is expected to give the proposal outline planning permission when it is discussed next week, enabling the police authority to advertise for a PFI partner which will draw up detailed proposals for the centre.
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The project is being managed by senior officers, including Chief Inspector Dave Corderoy who was anxious to emphasise it was not a prison.
He said: “We are not even using the word custody suite. This is a police investigation centre where suspects will be brought to be interviewed as part of an inquiry.
“They will be booked in, photographed just like they are at a police station. And because in that process there are inevitably delays we need to have somewhere secure to hold, that is the cells.
“The average length of time suspects are in custody is six to seven hours - after that they are released, bailed or sent off to court.”
Ch Insp Corderoy said the intention was that the company responsible for running the centre would also transport suspects to and from it.
He said: “We would try to ensure that once someone was arrested they were brought straight here in dedicated transport so the officer involved could continue investigations back at the scene.
“They would be interviewed by a member of a special team based here - only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary for another officer to interview them.”
Once the interview had been completed in most cases they would be returned from where they had been taken.
Ch Insp Corderoy said the new investigation centres would replace cells and interview rooms at police stations from Felixstowe to Peterborough, where quality varies significantly.
He added: “In the centres they will have the same equipment, use the same Information Technology systems and it should make processing suspects much more efficient and faster.
“That is good for justice - and good for those arrested.”
Marilyn Such, headteacher at Ravenswood Primary School, said it was too early to comment on the proposal.
However, she added: “It's one of those things that have to be properly thought out.
“I hope the community will be fully consulted and would have an opportunity to give its feedback.”
Malcolm Allan, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel also called for proper consultation before any decision were taken.
He said: “We would like to find out more information, things like what type of prisoners and what impact would have on the area.
“We obviously wouldn't want anything detrimental to business.
“It is important to have consultation so we have a voice.”
Ravesnwood resident Nick Neale added: “I don't really see how it's going to affect us at all.”
Investigation centre facts:
The likely cost of the centre is commercially sensitive, but is likely to be several million pounds.
Nine centres will be built across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
They are all due to open in the summer of 2009.
Cells at police stations across the region will be closed once they are open.
The centre will be the base for up to 60 staff working around the clock, with 15 to 25 people working there at any one time.
The Ipswich centre will handle people arrested in the south east Suffolk as far north as Leiston.