It's the car park clink for sleeping off Saturday night
THEY will be known as the prisoners: cell block MCS. Police in a town once branded Scotland's "toughest" are to build a cabin-style "modular custody suite" in its car park to deal with a surplus of offenders at weekends.
The new block of ten cells – which can be moved to other areas to meet demand – will be set up in Saltcoats, in Ayrshire, after being approved by Strathclyde Police Authority.
The metal-skinned cabin, complete with CCTV cameras and intercom system, will cost around 750,000 – a fraction of the price of traditional bricks-and-mortar cell blocks and help to end a critical shortage of containment facilities.
More are expected to be installed around Scotland as public sector budget cuts bite. Last week, the Strathclyde authority voted to abandon a 9 million plan to build a new fixed block in Glasgow.
Superintendent Stephen McGrath said: "The problem is the numbers we pick up for violent offences at weekends, or binge-drinking."
The rise in demand for cell spaces comes despite a substantial decline in overall crime, which is at a 25-year-low. However, police forces are increasingly likely to lock up suspected offenders.
Those locked up may have to share cells, and police lawyers have warned that forces could be leaving themselves open to the kind of human rights complaints that have forced the Scottish Prison Service to end slopping out.
A major new capital programme for developing new custody suites across Strathclyde will go before the police board this year, Scotland on Sunday understands.
Residents of some of Scotland's coastal resorts have long complained about the behaviour of weekend revellers.
Six years ago, Saltcoats was shamed in a TV documentary as "Britain's toughest resort town".
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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