A POLICE cell block has undergone a major revamp in a bid to deal with suspects more swiftly.
Extra interview rooms and better facilities for victims and witnesses are among the improvements carried out as part the work at Durham Police Station.
The changes have been made as part of an efficiency drive by Durham Constabulary to help it make the most of its budget, as well as bringing its custody suites up-to-date and in line with Government rules.
Cells in Peterlee, Bishop Auckland and Darlington are also undergoing work.
The increase in space at Durham was added after consultation with officers, who said bottlenecks were being caused as they waited for somewhere to question people arrested or those helping with inquiries.
By the end of the year, the New Elvet suite will have dealt with 5,000 suspects.
Superintendent Paul Beddows said: “This will make the custody process more efficient and that will benefit the victim as we get through it more quickly.
“It’s also in the interests of suspects and us because we can get a decision faster on whether they are going to be charged.”
A previously small room has been replaced with a larger, more modern facility where victims and witnesses will be able to use the latest technology available to run the Video Identification Parade Electrical Recording (Viper) programmes and pick out criminals.
The new facilities have been created in a previously under-utilised area of the station.
Inspector Mick Young has overseen the changes as custody project manager.
He said: “This is all part of an investment and review of our custody estate across the constabulary.”
The refurbished cells were visited by members of Durham Police Authority, as they saw how its cash has been invested, before they were put back in to use hours later.