Northern Ireland news

PSNI to permanently close three custody suites and refurbish several other sites

Musgrave PSNI Station in Belfast is being refurbished. Picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress

THE PSNI is to permanently close three of its custody suites by the end of 2019 and refurbish others as part of a review of its facilities.

The custody suite at Bangor PSNI station will be closed from December 1. The suite in Armagh will also close next year once facilities in Lurgan station are refurbished.

Custody rooms at Strand Road PSNI station in Derry will then be closed in 2019 after a new £11m, 21-cell facility opens in the Waterside.

Enniskillen custody suite will shut temporarily in March 2017 for refurbishment. Antrim custody suite will re-open on December 1 following major work and will also be used as a 'serious crime suite', where suspects in complex serious crime investigations are held and interviewed.

Musgrave PSNI station in Belfast will also be refurbished.

The PSNI said it had reviewed its custody suites because some were under-used and several needed to be updated to ensure they met health and safety requirements.

ACC Stephen Martin said more than 27,000 people are held in police cells every year, many of whom were suffering from addiction and mental health problems.

"Our ambition is to create a more effective and efficient custody service consisting of a fewer number of better-equipped suites, each of which will see the introduction of embedded healthcare and support services to help keep people safe," he said.

He said the closures will save around £1m in maintenance costs.

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Northern Ireland news