A planned closure of the cells at Leyland Police Station WILL go ahead, it has been announced.
The decision means criminals arrested across Leyland and South Ribble will now have to be transferred to Preston or West Lancashire.
The news comes just a year after the proposals were given an eleventh hour reprieve when the constabulary announced it would review all custody suites right across the force.
However, revealing the final decision, Asst Chief Constable Mark Bates, responsible for Territorial Policing, Criminal Justice and Contact Management, said: “We have previously reviewed the custody provision across the county, and took the difficult decision to close the Fleetwood custody suite in 2012 with no detrimental effect.
“At this time, Leyland custody suite was also earmarked for closure, but this was put on hold whilst the wider force restructure work developed.
“This closure will take place within the next six months.
“Due to the number of detainees and alternative disposals within the justice system, in order to make the best use of our officers and custody facilities, it is necessary to make this cell block closure.
“This will also mean that, by delivering alternative means to escort detainees to our custody suites, we will be able to keep officers out on patrol visible to communities for longer.
“Prisoners that would normally be taken to Leyland will, in the future, be transported to the most appropriate custody suite available to the officer, regardless of which division that is in.”
But the move has sparked fears that the future of South Ribble Magistrate’s Court could also be under threat.
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, who has been fighting the plans, said: “It is absolutely disgraceful they can even think about closing the cells at Leyland.
“The decision is absurd and shambolic.
“The police said they have consulted with stakeholders before pressing ahead, but that is absolute rubbish.
“When we were told the cells were closing at Chorley, we were reassured it wouldn’t cause an issue as the people arrested would be held in Leyland. It has, however, had a big impact on the courts in Chorley.”
Lancashire Police will reduce the number of cells it operates from seven to six – with Leyland being revealed as the casualty of the cutbacks.
It comes at a time when the constabulary faces making £42m of savings in four years, and it is believed this proposal would save £500,000 a year.
Mr Hoyle, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, added: “A review was undertaken 18 months ago, and it found closing the cells at Leyland wouldn’t work.
“Lancashire Police has also spent more than £1m refurbishing the suite at Leyland only to close it.
“Taxpayers now face a double whammy as they will no doubt have to foot the bill for improvements at West Lancashire to accommodate the increase in prisoner numbers.
“A study has shown it is actually used less than the facility at South Ribble, so to close Leyland is crazy.
“I am calling on the police chiefs to re-think this decision before it is too late.”