A NEW police custody suite could be built on the site of the old engine sheds at Salisbury Railway Station and Wiltshire’s police chief has threatened to resign if a facility is not retained in the city.
Plans for the new 14-cell custody suite were discussed at a meeting of the Criminal Court Users Group at Salisbury Crown Court last Wednesday.
And Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty said, despite it “not making sense in business terms”
to build a custody suite in Salisbury, there needs to be one in the city and he will resign if it doesn’t go ahead.
“I’m not going to be known for closing the custody suite in Salisbury on my watch,” he said. “I can reassure you that a custody suite is being built.”
The police have engaged architects but no contracts have been signed to start building on the land, which belongs to Wiltshire Council and is next to an area currently being looked at with a view to creating extra parking for the station.
The force’s plans will have to go through planning procedures but Mr Geenty said the aim is to open the new building in June 2015, but a statement from the office of Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson later admitted this would more likely be at the end of 2015.
The Wilton Road police station is closing in June this year and being renovated for use by the South Wiltshire University Technical College, set to open in September next year.
In the long term, police services will be split between three sites in the city, with officers at the Five Rivers community campus, the council offices at Bourne Hill and the new custody suite.
During the interim period, custody cases will be taken to Melksham but concerns have been raised about the time it will take for solicitors to travel to clients in custody in Melksham, and about arrangements for defendants needing to sign in at a local police station as part of bail conditions.
Solicitor Richard Griffiths said: “It is totally uneconomic to travel all the way to Melksham.
“The advantage of having a custody suite in Salisbury is that we can get there quickly. I have never gone to Melksham without having to wait an inordinate amount of time.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said the possibility of using the court’s holding cells had been looked into but it cannot be done as the cells don’t meet Home Office regulations for overnight cases. He added that his office will be seeking to get contracts signed as soon as possible.
A public meeting about the plans is set to take place in Salisbury on Monday, May 19 at the City Hall.
Further details will be announced closer to the time.