Buxton police station could lose its 13 custody cells

Buxton police station could lose it's 13 cells
Buxton police station could lose it's 13 cells

Buxton’s custody suite could be closed down - meaning anyone arrested would be held in cells in Chesterfield or Greater Manchester.

Derbyshire Constabulary said this week that although no formal determination had yet been made, the final decision would lie with the chief constable and the police and crime commissioner.

Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Bill McWilliam said: “One alternative option being considered includes the possibility of shifting Buxton’s demand to a combination of Chesterfield and the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) facilities in Cheadle and Ashton.

“Discussions in this regard are taking place with GMP, but no formal agreement has yet been reached.

“It is also worth noting the GMP facilities under consideration are actually closer to Glossop than the current facility in Buxton, which would decrease travelling distance in the aftermath of making arrests in that area.”

There are 13 cells at Buxton’s Silverlands police station and across the county the only other custody suites are in Derby and Chesterfield.

Assistant Chief Constable McWilliam said: “We have to consider whether the cost of maintaining and running the suite (at Buxton) represents a justifiable way to spend public funds.

“The suite is staffed by a custody sergeant and a detention officer 24-hours a day. The staff there regularly have no detainees to look after for more than a day at a time.

“This is a waste of vital resources and public money. We believe we may be able to provide better value for money by closing the suite and re-investing resources into other areas of policing.”

Reacting to the news, High Peak MP Ruth George said: “Having spent time on shift with High Peak police to see the practical difficulties of working over such a wide area, I have concerns about spreading our police further afield.

“I will be meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner to discuss the matter and I will continue to fight to ensure resources for the High Peak are used to give us the best possible police services.”

Mrs George added: “I know that a sizeable proportion of the people arrested in High Peak come from neighbouring areas, as we saw in New Mills last weekend.

“If those people are taken to police cells in their own area, it could be easier for officers to liaise on their background and any criminal history.

“There is concern that new guidelines from government have made custody suites very resource intensive. With the Buxton suite being used comparatively little, there are understandable discussions about whether the staff resources could be better used if we used custody suites in other areas.

“I can see there are therefore some arguments for looking at using police cells in Greater Manchester and Chesterfield, but this must be explored fully by the chief constable to make an operational decision on the best use of resources.”

Concerns have also been raised about the wider impact of the move on the legal profession.

Kirsten Collings, from Buxton, is a duty solicitor at Bakers. She said: “One time all arrests in Bakewell and Matlock were brought to Buxton. This is no longer the case.

“Buxton now deals with arrests from Glossop, New Mills and Whaley Bridge. The geographical area covered remains enormous.

“It must follow that the numbers at Chesterfield custody suite have been increased by this decision and the numbers at Buxton artificially reduced.

“As a resident of Buxton I take the view that the community would not be served properly by Derbyshire Constabulary if the custody suite were to close.

“Surely all residents of the High Peak are entitled to the same level of protection from the police as a resident in Derby.”

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, was very clear when he announced his intentions for police funding.

“Increases in the funding are conditional on forces continuing to make more efficient use of existing resources.

“Therefore I have asked the chief constable to identify where efficiencies can be made and this is one option being considered.

“This is an operational decision but I know it will be based on the need to free up more funding for police officers including improving visibility.

“However, no decisions have yet been made and I will of course discuss all the strategic and operational implications before any conclusions are reached.”