Cells closure trial comes under fire

THE trial closure of Spalding Police Station’s cells has come under fire for stretching police resources and delaying the ‘processing’ of prisoners.

Last month police chiefs shut the town’s custody suite for a three-month experiment in a bid to save cash – with offenders from here transported to Boston.

Solicitor Mike Alexander, of Criminal Defence Associates, said cracks are already showing in the new system but he’s convinced the top brass will stick with it and fears the permanent closure of Spalding’s cells is “a done deal”.

He said the switch to Boston could also undermine the future of Spalding Magistrates’ Court because Boston police are sending prisoners to be dealt with by the court at Grantham.

If Boston’s eight cells are full prisoners go to Grantham or Skegness.

He said one client accused of burglary waited three hours to be processed because officers travelled from Boston to search his Spalding home. Others are waiting two to three hours to go through the system when it used to take ten minutes.

Mr Alexander said: “It’s a completely pointless waste of money.

“The only people I speak to are the bobbies who arrest people who seem to be uniformly against the situation and the sergeants are uniformly against it. From my perspective it isn’t working.”

Mr Alexander said Spalding custody sergeants are now working elsewhere and he feels it is unlikely they will return.

Spalding pub landlord Pete Williams, of The Punchbowl, fears more petty offenders will be allowed to walk free.

He said: “I really worry that police choose to break up disturbances and send people away rather than incarcerating them for the night. It’s easier for the police just to send people on their way.”

Police spokesman Dick Holmes said the trial closure of Spalding’s cells will continue as planned and no final decision on whether to make it permanent will be made until the views of police officers, solicitors and those held in custody are taken into account.

l Spalding custody suite handled 2,695 people in the last calendar year – around 52 a week.