Prisoners will again be dealt with in Hartlepool cells as Cleveland Police responds to increased demand and as part of ongoing improvements to the way we deal with detainees.
The custody suite at Hartlepool has been opened temporarily since the end of July as a resilience suite, as officers deal with increased calls for service since lockdown restrictions were eased.
The opening of the Hartlepool cells is part of ongoing policing plans to respond to increased numbers of 999 calls.
Custody is a priority area for Cleveland Police and more than 15,000 people are dealt with in custody every year.
Many of these people are vulnerable in some way, for example due to drug or alcohol misuse, and must be detained and released safely. Those held overnight for court must also be dealt with efficiently.
The Force now has a dedicated Chief Inspector for Custody, Martin Hopps, who joined the Force from Northumbria Police in November 2020.
He is dedicated to managing the custody environment on a day-to-day basis and he has completed a thorough review of demand.
The review found that there has been a 16 per cent increase in persons detained in custody between 2018/19 and 2020/21. In 2020/21, 15, 877 persons were detained.
The opening of the Hartlepool cells as a resilience custody suite means the Force has an increased number of cells available at any one time, enabling officers to continue to respond to 999 calls effectively.
Chief Inspector Hopps explains that the pandemic brought particular challenges to those working in custody.
He said: “In the early stages of the pandemic those working in custody had to respond quickly to changes in working practices to keep them and prisoners safe.
“They showed real professionalism in adapting processes quickly when less was known about transmission, to ensure detainees were kept safe but also when facing new challenges such as being threatened with spitting or coughing.
“We continue to adapt within custody to ensure we can process prisoners in a way that is COVID-safe for them and police colleagues.
“Hartlepool provides us with additional capacity we can use at times of high demand.”