Police are “letting [suspects] off with a warning and hoping for the best” because they can’t cope with the scale of the crime problem, a senior officer has warned.
Since 2010, the number of custody cells has dropped by as much as 50 per cent, with further cuts planned to the suites where suspects are taken after they are picked up by police.
The reduction in custody cell numbers has seen Gloucestershire left with just one suite to cover the whole county, whilst several other counties including Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire have just two each.
England Policing Crisis: Crime up 13 Per Cent, Rape up 22 Per Cent, Just One in Nine Burglaries Solved
England Policing Crisis: Crime Up 13 Per Cent, Rape up 22 Per Cent, Just One in Nine Burglaries…
Police recorded crimes surged to over five million over the last year, according to a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) bulletin.
As a result, driving a suspect to the nearest custody suite and back to the town where the arrest took place can take as long as four hours, according to Police Federation chairman Steve White, who said the cutbacks have led to “a change in the mindset of many officers not to arrest unless they absolutely have to”.
White told The Telegraph: “What is going through their mind is that ‘this person needs arresting, but there is no one left on the ground, is there going to be something else more pressing that I might have to deal with?
“So what they are doing is letting someone off with a warning and hoping for the best. Hoping for the best that person does not go on to do something terrible,” added White.
Former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett asked why Chancellor Philip Hammond had failed to make available in his Budget the additional funds required to keep custody suites open.