In two weeks’ time, suspects and criminals from Sheffield and Rotherham will be locked up in a new state-of-the-art custody suite.
But don’t be fooled by this swanky £14 million jail house, because it’s far from luxurious.
It still has the stone-like beds and the suspect toilet and sink – but its purpose is to create a better environment for detainees.
The new 50 cell site is aimed to save the taxpayer £1.2million a year and has been described by South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton as ‘light years ahead’.
Seasoned criminals will no longer see the bare four walls of Snig Hill, Moss Way, Ecclesfield or Rotherham Main Street police stations.
Instead, after being cuffed, they’ll be transferred to the new site on Shepcote Lane, near Meadowhall, and will have better access to solicitors and drug and mental health workers if required.
The current sites which house detainees are said to be expensive, rundown and lacking vital technology that can help police staff do their jobs. The new suite was opened by the outgoing Chief Constable Mr Crompton and Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings.
Mr Crompton said: “What I can say, it’s absolutely light years ahead in terms of the facilities that are available for our detainees.
“It also brings opportunities to see drug workers – they have got special dedicated facilities among other agencies.
“It’s generally a much better environment to keep prisoners and people who have been arrested. One of the good things is it will save money in the long term after the initial cost of £14 million.
“It allows us to save around £1.2 million a year so in the next 12 years we’ll have recouped the money that was outlaid.
“It’s well known that we have to make significant financial savings but at the same time we need a workforce properly equipped to tackle crime and protect the public, and this centre, delivering new custody and crime facilities is a significant part of this process.
“We can man this with fewer staff and so it does save the taxpayer money having such a facility that is state-of-the-art. It’s the most modern custody facility in the country so I’m very proud that we’ve got it here in South Yorkshire.”
The centre was described as a ‘real step forward,’ giving investigating officers, partners and custody staff the ability to deal with some of their most difficult customers more efficiently. The custody building also comes with dedicated rooms for mental health teams, drug support workers and has a brand new photo booth to take prisoners’ mugshots.
Chief Inspector Stuart Walne said other forces from around the country had visited the new centre and were said to be ‘jealous’ of the new unit.
He added that new technology and CCTV monitoring every cell from a single desk will make it more secure and easier to operate.
“The whole building allows us to implement a controlled environment right from the start,” added Chf Insp Walne.
“Moving people to and from the cells is a very vulnerable time and some people can be in a distressed state and this site allows us to get detainees settled much quicker.
“If people want to know what’s going on with the investigation, if they a want a cup of coffee for example, then we can do this without having to bring them out of the cell and you can pass the phone straight through to them if they want to call a family member.”
Mr Crompton added: “Custody staff have one of the most challenging roles in policing South Yorkshire and the new centre provides them with integrated, modern facilities to manage high-risk situations and return officers to the streets at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Dr Billings said: “This is a state-of-the-art building. The existing facilities are unsuitable and expensive to run. The new centre will save money.
“It will provide a decent environment for police officers and other staff to work in. And by bringing all the agencies together it will also, I believe, contribute towards reducing re-offending.”
South Yorkshire Police received planning permission for the centre in November 2014 and contractors Willmott Dixon moved on to the site in January 2015. The building is now complete and will open for operational business on Tuesday, April 5.
Work on a new £6 million custody building in Barnsley is ongoing and is expected to be completed in the autumn.