Cells at town police station will be axed

Leyland Police Station
Leyland Police Station
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Leyland Police Station WILL have all of its 14 custody cells axed by next year.

The move will mean suspects who are arrested in the town will face a round-trip journey of up to 30 miles to stations in Preston, Blackburn, or even Skelmersdale.

The decision has been made by Lancashire Constabulary as it struggles to find £43m of savings over the next four years.

Currently, the police station at Leyland has a 24-hour custody office plus a custody reception team which process all incoming cases and paperwork.

This frees up arresting officers to get back onto the streets.

The news has sparked concern that the move will mean officers are tied up transporting prisoners and carrying out work at other stations.

Coun Matthew Tomlinson, leader of South Ribble Borough Council’s Labour group, said: “I am sure that to the man on the street closing these cells and taking people as far away as Skelmersdale can’t make any financial sense.

“Quite what the police intend to do with the redundant cells I do not know.

“I am sure that as the cuts begin to bite we will be seeing more and more of these decisions that local people will struggle to understand.”

The station currently processes around 7,000 suspects every year.

It is one of the two custody offices of the Southern Lancashire policing division, the other one being in Skelmersdale, which deals with suspects from Leyland, Chorley and parks of West Lancashire such as Ormskirk.

Under the new plans, it is likely suspects would be arrested and then transported up to 15 miles to the much bigger station on Lancaster Road North in Preston, which has 31 cells.

Chorley Police Station lost their custody services at the station a number of years ago, and cells are only used to detain suspects due to appear at the town’s magistrates’ court.

Coun Colin Clark, deputy leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “I have no doubt the police have some difficulties in coping with the cuts, however the concern would be the capacity of Skelmersdale and Preston to cope with the transfer of detainees from Leyland.

“I think it will obviously create difficulties for people who have an interest in these detainees making their way from Leyland to Skelmersdale.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary said: “Leyland custody suite will be closed by 2012 when detainees will be taken to either Preston, Skelmersdale or Blackburn depending on where they are arrested.

“However, they will still appear, where appropriate, at the local magistrates’ court. We are currently planning for the closure with the aim of causing as little disruption as possible to both the community that this custody area serves and also to local policing.

“The decision to close the custody suite was taken on 24 January 2011 as a result of a review undertaken in response to the forthcoming financial cuts. The situation will be monitored closely, and may be subject to review again.

“However, the public can be reassured that we are doing all we can to both protect them from those intent on committing criminal offences without local policing suffering as a consequence.”