THE way Wigan police deal with prisoners has undergone a major shake-up.
The Greater Manchester force’s custody arrangements have changed radically to ensure that a dedicated team of specialists deals with suspects, meaning that officers will not be redeployed from their neighbourhood and response jobs to perform duties within custody.
Custody provision will be centralised and 17 suites reduced to 10, though the forces says this will not mean a shortage of cells.
Officers carried out research on how the custody suites were run and found that GMP had more cell space than was needed and due to the use of other frontline staff to backfill custody duties there were different levels of experience.
Inspectors will be dedicated to custody duties and a team of 10 will provide round-the-clock custody cover and staff will be given better training to deal with the unique environment of custody.
Supt Ian Palmer, of GMP’s Criminal Justice and Custody Branch, said: “Custody was previously provided by divisions which meant that response and neighbourhood officers were drafted in to help. Also, if someone was arrested at a divisional border, they were taken to that division’s custody suite, which was not always the nearest police station.
“Our research showed us that we had more cells than we needed, which is why we have been able to reduce our custody suites. However, we will have sufficient capacity for day-to-day business and the resilience to cope with peaks of demand.
“The dedicated team we’re creating will be specialists, ensuring not only a more professional service, but also more response and neighbourhood officers will be able to get on with their usual jobs.”