Cell numbers on the rise for town

THE number of offenders kept in cells at Boston Police Station is set to rise over the coming months, as the site is to take offenders from Spalding on top of those arrested in the town.

Cells at the Spalding station were closed on Monday as part of a three-month trial in a cost-cutting review by Lincolnshire Police to see whether shutting the custody suite would work.

Based on detainee numbers from last year, the change will mean an increase of almost 700 people over the trial period – almost double the figure seen at Boston, which has more cells than Spalding.

Police chiefs have assured locals that the move will not affect the service they receive, as there are plans to provide cover for officers forced to travel with prisoners, but critics have branded it ‘a complete waste of money.’

Spalding inspector Paul Timmins said: “We are going to be very careful to make sure we are still providing the service that we are providing now. The public should not see any difference.

“If it doesn’t work we will stop straight away but rather than theorising we need to trial it and see if it works.”

If the cells at Boston were full at any time, offenders would be taken to Grantham.

Stewart Brinn, chief inspector of criminal justice and custody, added that Spalding would remain a viable custody facility and could be opened when needed. There are already plans in place for it to be re-opened over the Christmas and New Year period.

But despite these guarantees, solicitor Mike Alexander said he was concerned that the trial would quickly be made permanent. He also questioned how money would be saved.

The solicitor added: “It is a complete waste of money. This is public money they are spending and public resources not available for the job.”

Custody staff will temporarily move to other stations to cover.

Anyone arrested and charged would have to make their own way home, but vulnerable people would be helped by police, Insp Timmins said.

Between the end of September 2010 and September 27 this year the custody suite at Spalding dealt with 2,695 people. Boston handled 3,289.

They handled 671 and 799 respectively between October 1 and December 31.

l What do you think? Email laura.hammond@jpress.co.uk.