Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Four new Hampshire police custody suites planned

Four new police custody centres are to be built in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight following a decision by Hampshire Police Authority.

The authority met earlier to decide whether to lease the centres from the private sector or build new ones.

The move will increase the number of cells across the two counties to 191. Cells at Portsmouth and Southampton central police stations will stay open.

The new centres will cost £67m over 30 years, the authority said.

They will be financed through the sale of redundant police buildings.

In June Hampshire Police Authority revealed plans to close 18 police stations across the two counties.

Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde said: "Modernising custody and making the whole process more cost-effective is at the heart of this project.

"Being able to process criminals far more quickly and get them into court has got to be bad news for anyone who breaks the law.

"It's true there will be fewer custody suites across the two counties, but the new builds give us the opportunity to update the system and make it more efficient as a whole.

"The centres will bring together the number of custody staff and investigative and interview teams, and will result in police officers spending less time booking in prisoners and more time on the streets or in their core roles."

The force faces cuts of £50m through to April 2015 but said front-line jobs would be protected until 2012.

Hampshire Constabulary is to cut 160 jobs over the next year as part of £20m in budget cuts.

The force, which employs 6,700 staff, will have a budget of about £314m for the next financial year.

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