Fears over police cell closure

Enniskillen PSNI station

CONCERNS have been raised regarding frontline policing following confirmation that the cells in Enniskillen Police Station will be closed a year.
The cells – described as custody suites by the PSNI – will be closed from March 19th for a refurbishment, and people detained in the Fermanagh area will mainly be taken to facilities in Dungannon or Omagh.
The suites are part of a designated area in the Enniskillen Police Station which is used by anyone who has been arrested or is answering bail and also were interviews are conducted.
Chairman of the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, John Coyle has voiced his concerns that the temporary closure will take Police officers off the streets in Fermanagh while they transport defendants to Omagh or Dungannon.
“It is not good enough, we have a large rural area and an incident could happen anywhere and travelling into Enniskillen to the custody suite is the only option. Police having to travel to Dungannon or Omagh is not acceptable because it is taking frontline police officers off the streets and away from their duties of protecting the public in Fermanagh. It is not acceptable.”
Cllr Coyle believes that it is ‘ridiculous’ that the refurbishment will take a year to complete and is hoping to meet to discuss the implications.
“As chair of the PCSP I will be seeking a to have a meeting with the relevant officers who have made the decision. If they are only refurbishing it, it should not take a year. I cannot fathom why they have earmarked a full year to refurbish it. There should not be that much work to be done – I think it is ridiculous,” he added.
A spokesman from the PSNI told the Herald, “The PSNI custody reform strategy aims to provide fit for purpose custody facilities across Northern Ireland with appropriately trained police officers and staff to keep people safe whilst detained in police custody.”
Superintendent Jane Humphries said, “As District Commander for Fermanagh and Omagh it is incumbent on me to ensure that any people detained locally receive the care most appropriate to their needs.”
Fermanagh Solicitors’ Association is concerned at the inconvenience and burden which shall be placed upon members of the public in the county by the proposed temporary closure of the Custody Suite at Enniskillen PSNI station.
A spokesman told the Herald, “individuals who will be obliged by police to travel to Omagh from all parts of Fermanagh may be required to make a number of trips during the investigation of their case. Those in that situation may include the most vulnerable in society whether that be as a result of being in receipt of benefits, not having the access to transport or have difficulties with their mental health.
“The requirement to make that journey places additional stress on people in what will already be a difficult situation for them.
“It is anticipated that anyone arrested in Fermanagh will be brought to Omagh PSNI will have to make their way home regardless of the time of day or night with the onus being placed upon the individual to get themselves home whether they have the means or not to do so.
“The Association would ask that police keep the closure to as short a period as possible and to take every step possible to minimise disruption to members of the public and also to ensure in the longer term that Enniskillen PSNI retains a custody suite .
“The most vulnerable in our community have been hit by the withdrawal of services locally and there is a genuine concern that the proposed closure of Enniskillen Custody suite could become a more permanent arrangement,” the spokesman added.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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