Former convict Jonathan Aitken opens Gloucester custody suite

Image caption,
Former cabinet minister and prisoner Jonathan Aitken opened Gloucestershire's new custody suite

A new custody suite for Gloucestershire has been opened by the former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken.

Compass House, which enters service later, is capable of housing 50 detainees.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said Mr Aitken was chosen because of his capacity as a former prisoner.

Mr Aitken was jailed in 1999 after admitting perjury following the collapse of his libel case against The Guardian and World in Action.

The former Conservative served almost seven months of an 18-month sentence for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

At the opening ceremony, he said he was "really impressed" by the facilities and described them as "the finest police cells in the country".

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said Compass House is "a quite tremendous building".

Image source, Gloucestershire PCC
Image caption,
The multi-million pound suite will replace cells in Gloucester and Cheltenham

He said he invited Mr Aitken to open the facility because "with his intimate knowledge and understanding of the criminal justice system I hope his presence will send an important message to offenders and anyone thinking of offending".

The £12.4m complex replaces ageing cells in Gloucester and Cheltenham which were described as "long overdue" for replacement.

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