Patchway police custody suite may be run by private firm

Custody suite and police station under construction at Gloucester Road, Patchway.

A new police custody suite being constructed on the former Bensons site on Gloucester Road in Patchway could be run by a private firm when it opens in 2014.

Avon and Somerset Police says it is considering the possibility of contracting a private partner to manage services at the new facility, along with others in Bridgwater, Keynsham and Yeovil. This would include staffing the custody units, carrying out identification services and transporting detainees.

Five companies (G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd, The GEO Group UK Inc, Interserve Investments Ltd, Resource (NI) Limited and Tascor Services Ltd) have been invited to tender for the services.

The force says it wants to explore how a partnership might help it improve standards, increase expertise and adopt efficient ways of working.

Chief Constable Nick Gargan said:

“The opening of our new purpose built custody suites next year has presented us with a unique opportunity to review and maximise the service we provide. We want to see what a private partner can provide us in terms of innovation, efficiency and value for money. The savings we make will reduce the need for cuts to frontline policing.”

A press release put out by the force explained further:

“We think this could help us keep our police officers on the street for as much time as possible. As our partner organisation would transport detainees to custody and manage the custody service we provide, rather than police officers, who could remain on the front line instead.”

“It’s important to note that we’re also reviewing how much it would cost for us to run the custody service [ourselves]. This piece of work will ensure we achieve the best value for money and the best service, irrespective of whether we choose to work with a private partner.”

Tenders from suppliers are due to be submitted by mid-December with a decision expected early in the New Year.

The new development in Patchway will also house a police station, replacing the one at Elm Park, Filton.