England

Avon and Somerset Police may privatise custody suites

Sue Mountstevens, independent PCC candidate
Image caption Sue Mountstevens will make the final decision

Custody suites, prisoner transport and identification services in the Avon and Somerset police force area may be run by a private firm in the future.

If approved by the police commissioner, these services would be run by the private sector from next April.

Chief Constable, Nick Gargan said the changes could save "several hundreds of thousands of pounds" a year.

In Lincolnshire, Cleveland and Thames Valley, firms like G4S and Capita run some services for the police already.

"I have agreed that the constabulary can start looking at finding a private sector provider to deliver some custody services," said Sue Mountstevens, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.

'Competitive process'

A report has said those running the police custody suites would be better trained and would offer a better quality service than the current in-house service.

"We're asking the private sector to come in and impress us [with their figures]," said Mr Gargan.

"I want to keep some of my numbers close to my chest. I've got a figure in mind which is several hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

"This should be a very competitive process. We want to drive a hard bargain," he added.

In Avon and Somerset, 10 custody suites in the force area are also set to be replaced with three suites under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

These three new suites will be based in Bridgwater, Keynsham and Patchway.

Avon and Somerset has also outsourced other services, such as handing some back office work to computer company IBM as part of the South West One venture with local councils in Somerset a few years ago.

A business case will be put together by the police force and the final decision will be made by Ms Mountstevens.

"Any decision I take will be about delivering the best services to communities and enabling frontline officers to do their job most effectively," said Ms Mountstevens.

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