Police station becomes a prison

PRISON overcrowding has forced one of the county's police stations to start taking in inmates, it emerged today.A report to the county's police authority revealed that Halesworth police station has been using eight cells to house criminals who would otherwise be in a normal prison.

PRISON overcrowding has forced one of the county's police stations to start taking in inmates, it emerged today.

A report to the county's police authority revealed that Halesworth police station has been using eight cells to house criminals who would otherwise be in a normal prison.

The cells are manned by police officers who are being asked to volunteer for extra shifts to ensure there is adequate staffing.

The move is part of Operation Safeguard, a government initiative to relieve overcrowding in prisons, which began in October.


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Anne-Marie Breach, a police spokeswoman, said: “Halesworth police station has been taking in prisoners since October 17 and has had more than 30 through the doors so far.”

She said officers were being given the opportunity to volunteer for extra shifts, which would be paid for directly by the Home Office rather than the Suffolk Constabulary.

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Ms Breach said there is no danger posed to the public through the use of the police station's cells.

She said: “The cells have been fully equipped and risk-assessed and the cost of any alterations that have had to be made has been met by the Home Office.

“Halesworth police station was revamped fairly recently anyway so was up to a good standard before this.”

A paper that went before the county's police authority said that all staff working extra hours were being closely monitored to ensure that no-one works “excessive hours.”

Ms Breach said no other police stations in the county had opened to prisoners and there were no plans for this to happen in the near future.

The current prison population in England and Wales is around 73,000.

Operation Safeguard is the formal recognition of the use of police cells to hold Home Office prisoners when prisons have reached their operational capacity.

Do you think holding prisoners in police stations is a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

WEBLINK: www.homeoffice.gov.uk

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