Behind the scenes inside Fenland’s new police investigation centre

PEOPLE released after being brought to the new police investigation centre for Fenland and West Norfolk could be driven home by special constables, it emerged last night.

Bus passes could also be issued to those released after being held and questioned at the new centre, based on the outskirts of King’s Lynn, close to the Norfolk Arena.

While the transport facility is occasionally available to vulnerable people, this is the first time it has been extended to more people by police in this way.

Chief Insp Roger Wiltshire, head of custody for the six police investigation centres in the region, said these were some of the options available to police to help people return home from the centre to remote rural areas.

Speaking at the centre as it opened yesterday afternoon, he said: “We have got a number of options available at the moment. Officers dealing with people for serious crimes will stay with them throughout their time at the centre.

“However for people arrested for being drunk and disorderly or something similar, we have arrangements with a bus company for bus passes to be issued to people. Additionally, at quieter times like Sunday mornings, we have special constables here who could take people back.”

Chief Insp Wiltshire also remained positive about the longer distances officers will face to take people to the centre in Saddlebow from as far away as March.

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He said: “We have a team of investigators based here that can juggle jobs so the fact that officers might have to travel an extra 30 minutes is insignificant if they can drop off people who have been arrested and go back to the front line.”

The Lynn centre has 24 cells and has been built with a �87.5million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal with Suffolk police, which will also see centres open at Great Yarmouth, Martlesham and Bury St Edmunds.

An eight-cell centre opened at Aylsham in late February and a 30-cell complex opened in Wymondham in April.

The new investigation centres will host CCTV facilities and cells, which will also have infra-red technology. They will also offer forensic and photographic facilities, along with modern interview recording equipment.

There will also be life-monitoring sensors in the cells that detect breathing and movement so if a detainee stops either of those, an alarm will sound.

Police say these centres have been built to reduce the amount of time officers spend in custody dealing with suspects, freeing them up to spend more time policing the streets.

Chief Insp Wiltshire said: “This centre is one of the most modern custody centres in the country. The current cells we have in King’s Lynn are old and at the end of their life – doing nothing was not an option.

“The big difference is this centre will be a one-stop shop for investigating crimes. People can have their fingerprints and photographs taken while the officers who made the arrest and brought them here can go back to the streets.”

Police calculate 51,000 frontline officer hours will be saved through the increase in efficiency and through the realignment of some resources – a financial saving of �1,030,353.

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