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West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has officially opened West Midlands Police’s second state-of-the-art custody suite.

The Perry Barr facility is a sister site to the Oldbury suite which opened in March this year.

The opening of these two buildings represents a significant investment in the force’s custody facilities.

They are designed to promote a safer environment for detainees, partners and staff and more effective working practices which should ultimately release more police officers on to the streets rather than spending time looking after detainees. 

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 development that will bring further budget savings. The new block will speed up the booking in process so officers are back out on the streets where the public want to see them.

“The new custody facilities will mean that officers spend more time out on the streets, detainees will be safer and West Midlands Police will save money too.

“I am also proud that as part of the contract, local employment was supported and local apprentices given opportunities.”

Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann added: “These new facilities are fantastic, both for the public and for our staff.

“Our overall standard of care is greatly improved and there is a real opportunity for us to prevent re-offending by engaging with our partners at the earliest stage. There will be a reduction in the number of officers needed for the close observation of vulnerable detainees, allowing officers to return to their communities much quicker than they may have done previously.”

The building was officially opened by Mr Jamieson, ACC Cann and WMP’s Director of Resources David Wilkin. 

Like the Oldbury site, Perry Barr does not have a front office facility. The nearest available front office is at Birmingham Central police station in Steelhouse Lane.

Perry Barr custody suite has 60 cells as well as dedicated facilities for partners working in detainee health, mental health, substance misuse and immigration. 

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 Home Office standards to keep people safe while in police custody.

There are also 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 building can be monitored using cameras, intercoms and alarm panels on every wall.

Modern digital equipment has been incorporated into the new facility for processing fingerprints and photographs, it also includes numerous suspect interview rooms and consultation rooms aimed at reducing the waiting times experienced at existing custody suites. All suspect interview rooms are fitted with state-of-the-art digital interview recording and monitoring facilities.

The building will house detainees mainly from across Birmingham and also has additional office space intended to accommodate police officers and staff involved in criminal investigations. 

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

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