Lack of custody cells in Richmond and Northallerton ‘hitting police responses’

North Yorkshire Police's Northallerton headquarters.

The absence of police custody facilities in North Yorkshire is inadequate, hitting response times and taking teams of officers out of action for up to four hours at a time as they drive detainees around, a meeting has heard.

Members of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel have asked commissioner Zoe Metcalfe to provide a report amid concerns over the length of time it takes officers across the north of North Yorkshire to travel with those arrested to custody suites in Harrogate and Scarborough, due to the closure of cells in Richmond and Northallerton.

The issue has been repeatedly raised as a concern by community leaders, particularly following outbreaks of antisocial behaviour as pandemic lockdown restrictions were eased.

Councillors had claimed the distances involved in arresting people is serving as a deterrent to functional policing in parts of the county.

Panel member Martin Walker, a former judge, told Mrs Metcalfe he had received various reports that police officers were “not arresting people that perhaps they should” because of the length of time it was taking to travel to custody suites.

He added: “I can’t see there’s any other reason for doing it than saving money.”

The meeting heard the Northallerton custody suite had been closed since the town’s police station moved into the police and fire service’s headquarters at the former Rural Payments Agency offices.

Councillor Peter Wilkinson said the commissioner at the time, Julia Mulligan, had promised a report into the effectiveness of the closure alongside giving reassurances that Darlington and Northallerton police stations would be used for custody when required.

He said it had since emerged that the force was using Harrogate’s custody facilities, which took up to four hours’ of officers time.

Coun Wilkinson said: “This is having a detrimental effect on response times in Hambleton.”

In response, Mrs Metcalfe said when the decision to close Northallerton’s custody suite was made in 2017 the force estimated the average cost of building custody facilities was £15m.

She said she would monitor and review the situation with the chief constable, but the demand for custody facilities in the Northallerton area, similarly to Ripon, did not support a custody suite.

Mrs Metcalfe said the force had instead invested heavily in creating “voluntary interview suites” across the county.

She said a government inspection of the force’s custody system earlier had raised no concerns about the transporting of detainees to custody suites.

Mrs Metcalfe said: “I do hope this provides members with some assurance that these arrangements have been based on extensive assessments and the recent inspection.”

She said: “The public quite rightly expect the police to maximise its assets to use public money effectively.

“Offenders are only brought into custody when it is a necessity and proportionate to do so.”

3 Comments

  1. These concerns were voiced before the sham decisions were made. Like the closure of the Court in Northallerton should never have happened, the only DDA compliant Court in the Region, closed by idiots in the ivory tower and no knowledge of the ground work

  2. Some years ago the local police locked the drunks etc in the local police station at Leyburn overnight to let them sober up till next morning.

    This would get the local body back out there on to the beat that night to sort out more trouble makers etc.

    The only trouble now is the police can’t go back to this cost effective method because someone had a great idea and soled the Leyburn Police Station.

    They say what goes round comes round. Let’s just hope it soon comes round.

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