Closure of Skipton's police cells could threaten town's court

Julia Mulligan

Julia Mulligan

First published in News

SKIPTON Magistrates' Court could close if the police station loses its cells, a Craven councillor has warned.

Police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan sought to reassure Craven district councillors that there would be no impact on the court if proposals to close the Skipton custody suite - and take people to Harrogate instead - went ahead.

She also told the council's crime and disorder committee that she had recently been surprised to receive unexpected "reassuring noises" about the future of the court.

But Cllr Simon Myers (Cons), a former criminal barrister, said he believed the Ministry of Justice would decide there was no point in sending people to Skipton Magistrates' Court if they were already in custody in Harrogate.

"Whatever the Ministry of Justice is telling you now, if someone is in custody in Harrogate, the MOJ will say why are we shipping them over to Skipton," he said.

Cllr Myers said he was determined to keep the cells - which councillors were told were not as modern as those at Harrogate - and the court open.

"Providing the cells are safe, the public will be happy that they've not had a lick of paint for a while," he said.

"People want police officers on the streets, they don't want them going back and forth to Harrogate," he said.

Cllr Myers said the problems faced by the proposed closure were insurmountable.

He warned of people being arrested, taken to Harrogate and then turfed out in the middle of the night and of officers potentially having to return vulnerable people all the way home to remote parts of the Dales.

"There are all sorts of issues that I would say are insurmountable," he said.

Cllr Andy Solloway (Ind) warned against moving justice away from the town and pointed to the removal earlier this year of traffic offences away from Skipton.

He said two officers would be taken out of Craven every time someone was arrested and driven to Harrogate, impacting on police cover.

He also had concerns about proposed changes to the number of sergeants.

"I have serious concerns about this will impact. The way I see it, it will be a reduction in officers," he said.

Acting superintendent Simon Lovell said councillors were right to be concerned and that he shared them.

He said the Skipton custody suite was up to Home Office standards and that people should not have concerns about that, but it would not be built in the same way today.

There were many issues to be worked out, but he warned budget cuts meant savings had to be found.

And he agreed the problems looked insurmountable, but financial pressures on the police were a "game changer".

Mrs Mulligan said it had been carefully worked out that the proposals would save money.

"It will save money, it is about the operational consequences of it we have to look at," she said.

Councillors are due to further consider the proposals put forward in the Operational Policing Model, which is currently under consideration. More details can been seen on the police website northyorkshire.police.uk/OPM

Comments (4)

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1:47pm Sun 13 Jul 14

Skipton Ratepayer says...

Why aren't we surprised? NYCC doesn't seem to care much for Skipton, does it? Virtually no buses, and soon no court, and who will reassure us that we'll still have police? They happily take our council tax though, and spend it on the rest of the county. And on bicycle racing, of course, the cost of which would probably have saved our cells.
Why aren't we surprised? NYCC doesn't seem to care much for Skipton, does it? Virtually no buses, and soon no court, and who will reassure us that we'll still have police? They happily take our council tax though, and spend it on the rest of the county. And on bicycle racing, of course, the cost of which would probably have saved our cells. Skipton Ratepayer
  • Score: 12

9:34pm Mon 14 Jul 14

Soapboxcity says...

Cuts have already reduced front line policing so two officers escorting a prisoner to Harrogate will have as huge impact.
If they arrest at Cross hills for example, it will take a good hour to get there, time to book the prisoner in to a busy custody area, time to handover/ deal with prisoner, then travelling time back.....the two officers can't split up because they only have one vehicle to get back in.
Closing the cells will have a massive impact on already reduced front line policing!
Cuts have already reduced front line policing so two officers escorting a prisoner to Harrogate will have as huge impact. If they arrest at Cross hills for example, it will take a good hour to get there, time to book the prisoner in to a busy custody area, time to handover/ deal with prisoner, then travelling time back.....the two officers can't split up because they only have one vehicle to get back in. Closing the cells will have a massive impact on already reduced front line policing! Soapboxcity
  • Score: 12

12:49am Wed 16 Jul 14

John Civis says...

Commisioner Mulligan whose job, we must remember was only created very recently, could save the cost of the Skipton prisons by declaring as she should, if she had a conscience, that her job need not exist..and should be abolished.

No local authority in the Uk had a Police Commissioner along with their entourage until last year. I understand that Mrs Mulligan is paid an inordinate amount of money to preside over yet another unnecessary tier of local government and one which the Chief Inspectors themselves feel is not needed and is, possibly counter-productive.
Commisioner Mulligan whose job, we must remember was only created very recently, could save the cost of the Skipton prisons by declaring as she should, if she had a conscience, that her job need not exist..and should be abolished. No local authority in the Uk had a Police Commissioner along with their entourage until last year. I understand that Mrs Mulligan is paid an inordinate amount of money to preside over yet another unnecessary tier of local government and one which the Chief Inspectors themselves feel is not needed and is, possibly counter-productive. John Civis
  • Score: 7

9:01pm Sun 20 Jul 14

lab says...

This would make sense was it not for the local geography. If it was being suggested that we share cells with Ilkley, Keighley or even Colne then I could see how it could work. However, we're not - because we're in a different county. The boundary lines mean that our nearest neighbour within the county is just too far away. I won't repeat the reasons why this is a stupid idea as Soapboxcity has already covered that. I do think however that if we looked at the bureaucracy in the public sector and really tried to drive efficiency and eliminate wastage then there would be no need for brainless ideas such as this one.
This would make sense was it not for the local geography. If it was being suggested that we share cells with Ilkley, Keighley or even Colne then I could see how it could work. However, we're not - because we're in a different county. The boundary lines mean that our nearest neighbour within the county is just too far away. I won't repeat the reasons why this is a stupid idea as Soapboxcity has already covered that. I do think however that if we looked at the bureaucracy in the public sector and really tried to drive efficiency and eliminate wastage then there would be no need for brainless ideas such as this one. lab
  • Score: 0

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