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A new 60-bed facility, unlikely to feature in any most wanted place to stay list, has opened in Oldbury today (Tuesday 22 March).

The building is three years in the making, from planning approval through to a finished product, and has been officially opened this morning by Chief Constable Dave Thompson and Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson

The suite, which is close to Sandwell and Dudley railway station, has been built on 3.4 acres.

The cells have cameras, anti-graffiti surfaces, reflective ceiling domes so occupants can be seen at all times plus low beds to prevent falls. The building has been designed to prevent harm and keep people safe whilst in police custody.

Oldbury custody suite also has four accessible cells for disabled occupants and six windowed cells for high-risk detainees, who previously had to be monitored by officers sitting in the open doorway of their cell.

The corridors are much wider, providing a safer environment for staff and detainees when restraint is necessary.

The central hub has six desks, six times as many as was standard and a control desk from which all areas of the suite can be monitored using cameras, intercoms and alarm panels on every wall.

The suite has state-of-the-art equipment in its medical room, fingerprint room and intoximeter room. There are 12 interview rooms, to further cut waiting times all fitted with state of the art digital interview recording facilities.

The building will house detainees mainly from across the western side of the West Midlands Police area.

It has been designed in line with the latest standards and will enable officers to safely detain and interview those suspected of crime.

It is the first of two 60 -cell custody suites with the second due to open in Perry Barr in May.

The new facility provides much greater flexibility in meeting demand that should speed up the booking in process allowing officers to return to their local front-line policing duties much faster after taking a detainee to custody.

It also offers greater opportunities to work with partners in health creating pathways intended to deal with those suffering mental illness or addicted to drugs or alcohol.

The modernising custody project is part of the force’s WMP2020 organisational change programme.

PCC David Jamieson said: “This is an important investment for policing in the West Midlands and will bring our custody facilities up to date.

“The new custody suite is a significant commitment that will support service improvements, provide further budget savings and speed up the booking in process so officers are back out on the streets where the public wants them

“This is a state-of-the-art complex which will ensure West Midlands Police is at the forefront of fighting and preventing crime and keeping people in our communities safe.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “I am really pleased to be opening this facility today.

“We have been trying to conduct modern policing in what are essentially out-dated blocks with limited space.  On many occasions we end up in a bottleneck situation with not enough space to cater for demand.

“Now we have a purpose-built facility in which we will never need to hold up processing.

“The standard of this suite is absolutely fantastic and it will allow us to run a much more efficient service.

“The speed with which we can deal with detainees will increase, meaning officers can spend more time on the streets.

“However fantastic the suite is though it’s not a great place to spend time in and as well as a place to question and investigate offenders we now have the space to work with those in our care to try to prevent the cycle of offending.”

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