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Custody Initiative ‘Saves 350 Frontline Hours’

Lincolnshire Police says more officers are being freed up to stay on the front line as suspects transported to custody with help of private contractor

A police force says it has managed to save 350 hours of officer time through a new custody initiative which it piloted with a private partner.

Lincolnshire Police said the “Street to Suite” scheme has now been rolled out across the south of the county after its success in keeping officers on the front line during peak hours.

It was piloted with the force’s private contractor, G4S, in the eight weeks leading into the beginning of its new contract with the security firm.

The intiative sees people arrested on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights handed over to G4S custodians with four-cell capacity vans. This ensures officers can stay out and collect witness statements about any alleged offence without having to take the suspects to custody themselves.

Lincolnshire Police spokesman Ch Insp Steve Taylor said: “Firstly the police officer has a couple of hours saved by not having to travel.

“Secondly he can stay and get evidence at the scene and then make sure it is ready when that person is going to be interviewed.”

Before the handover, those arrested are searched and a risk assessment is completed by the officer at the scene. This is then handed over to the custodian who is also verbally told the circumstances of offence and time of arrest.

The custodian takes responsibility for the suspects and takes them back to the custody suite where all the information is passed over to a custody sergeant.

The sergeant can then decide whether to authorise the detention of the suspects.

Ch Insp Taylor added: “If he needs any clarification calls will be made to the arresting officer to check.”

The force says the scheme makes further efficiency savings due to the capacity of the vans. Multiple arrests can be made at one scene before the same van is called to the scene of another incident where further arrests are made. All suspects from the various incidents can then be transported to the custody suite in one journey.

Although similar schemes are deployed by other forces, the Lincolnshire initiative differs as it uses private staff to transport suspects. In contrast, Surrey Police uses community support officers in this role.

Lincolnshire says that by using the private contractors, all frontline officers and PCSOs can stay on the frontline without being redeployed elsewhere.

Ch Insp Taylor said: “The golden hour is preserved more because officers can compute evidence and pick up witnesses by staying at the scene which otherwise they couldn’t have done.”

He added that the scheme also allowed officers to stay out on patrols instead of returning to police stations to process suspects. In addition, if suspects are ill and need to go home or to hospital, custodians can transport them appropriately, Ch Insp Taylor said, saving officers further time.

The scheme was piloted in Spalding, Boston and Skegness for eight weeks to allow police staff to become accustomed to the new custody process.

They are now employed by G4S after being transferred as part of the £200 million private contract. Around 544 former police staff work for G4S after the April 1 contract came into being. This is two thirds of the entire police staff.

The scheme is also being used by South Wales Police.

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