OPINION: Cuts are biting but new centre is right

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You could be forgiven for thinking it.

How can South Yorkshire Police pull out £14 million for a new ‘state-of-the-art’ custody suite while front-line bobbies lose their jobs and police call handlers tackle an increasing backlog of reported incidents?

The Star thought exactly the same.

But scratch a little deeper under the surface and you see the wider benefits of this swanky new jail house.

Our feature today outlines how the new custody building on Shepcote Lane, near Meadowhall, will improve the environment of both detainees and police staff.

Our reporter had the chance to try out these new cells for himself.

And despite its ‘state-of-the-art’ label, it’s still no luxury stay.

Suspects and offenders who have visited Moss Way, Ecclesfield, Snig Hill and Rotherham Main Street police stations will do so no more.

And a big advantage is that there is space and opportunity for other agencies to help offenders.

In reality, many who will pass through the doors at Shepcote Lane will be people suffering from mental disorders and drink problems and the help will try to stop re-offending.

The existing four sites have been described by Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings as more expensive to run and requiring more staff to operate.

So this is the sort of investment that South Yorkshire Police should be making.

If it does transpire that £1.2 million is saved every year, as police chiefs claim, then it has to be welcomed by the taxpayers of Sheffield and Rotherham.

If cuts to the budgets are to be made then this type of investment is welcome.

A place like this is built to last and although there will be an initial pain in the police’s pocket, it should become cost effective in the long run.

To the average civilian in Sheffield and Rotherham, having the best custody centre in the land is nothing to brag about.

But in the policing world, South Yorkshire is now envied by forces across the country.

The vast majority of us will not see the inside of it, all being well, but the new custody suite opens on Tuesday, April 5.