‘CELL’ OUT!

SOME people say it is akin to a pub with no beer or even a hotel without any bedrooms but have you ever heard of a police station without any cells?

Well that is exactly the situation at the soon-to-open £5.5 million new police station in Ballymoney.

Prisoner cell blocks are obviously synonymous with police stations but the Times can reveal that the new station at Charlotte Street will not have any custody suite.

The PSNI confirmed to us there will be no cells in the new station in Ballymoney because people who are arrested will be, in the first instance, directed to the custody suite eight miles away in Coleraine.

A spokesperson said: “The new Ballymoney Police station is on schedule and we hope that the new facility will be in use before Christmas, however a formal opening is not likely to take place before the New Year.

“There will not be a custody suite in the new station as the nearest custody suite is only eight miles away in Coleraine. The cost of the new station is in the region of £5.5m.”

The absence of cells at the station has already lead to a few wags speculating, tongue-in-cheek, as to why cells are not needed in Ballymoney.

One local said: “Ballymoney must be one of the first police stations anywhere not to have cells but maybe it is because the police believe we are a peace-loving people and as crime is relatively low in the area there is no need for a place in the borough to keep people in custody!”

However, another local said: “It may seem odd not having cells in a police station but I think it is a good decision.

“At the moment all suspects are brought to Coleraine in the first instance as it is and the current Ballymoney Police Station is not used.

“Not having cells in Ballymoney will probably save some money in the building process and also in terms of having to pay somebody to manage what would be very few ‘prisoners’ locally anyhow and Coleraine Police Station is only a ten or fifteen minute trip away for prisoners.

”And custody suites need to have proper facilities to separate men, women and children and have sufficient rooms for arrested people to be processed and interviewed and have room for medical examinations and the like. Times have changed from every village police station having a few cells.”