Now let's have some local news.
Further democratic participation has been removed from the residents in Ashford in Kent with the announcement today that the custody suite in Ashford station will in fact be rendered useless.
Notice I do not say "removed".
When the story was first announced a few months ago there was public uproar in the town that the custody suite would be moved to Folkestone (Bouverie Station) which would allegedly free up more officers to work in the town centre.
Many members of the public pointed out in the Kentish Express that Ashford has a larger population than Folkestone, that police officers would need to drive perpetrators from Ashford to Folkestone (24 mile round trip) and that the custody suite at Ashford provides access to the court that could not be accessed from cells at Folkestone.
Further investigations with local services unveiled that we only ever had three beat officers on duty at Ashford at any one time, and that community policing across the town is evidently poor given the amount of hotspots for antisocial behaviour, arson, criminal damage, assault related offences, burglary, and drug dealing. Anyone attending a community forum within any of the wards of Ashford will come across a range of these offences let alone reading the Kentish Express or Kent Online.
This is its self suggests that the custody cells are only half full because the officers we do have are not deployed properly in the first place.
However, today's article reveals that the custody cells are not going to be removed or developed into any form of office space for the allegedly new community police officers who will gain, but will be used sporadically for court attendance or needs must.
I would hazard a guess that Kent Police wish to knock the building down to make way for the shiny and useless Gateway Plus development in the years to come.
In addition to this, horrific scaremongering figures are bandied about to try and make an excuse for the cut in services within Ashford town centre.
"On average it takes an hour and a half to book a prisoner into custody with an officer off the streets and behind a desk for about four hours filling out paperwork."
Given the Kent Police changed to civilian staff completing paperwork with the merging of the Criminal Justice Units across the county when Chief Constable Mike Fuller took over, and the desks are manned by civilian custody staff, this does not count for the alleged volume of officers that are needed within the Ashford custody suite.
"Police say the suite ... required 314 Sergeant and 219 detention officer shifts to run it"
314 sergeants works out at 2512 hours. There are 8736 hours a year. Therefore we can assume that sergeants only covered one eight-hour shift a day.
Given the detention officers are civilian staff, we can also deduce from this reporting that the only officers actually involved in the custody suite with the sergeants who didn't even have eight hours a day there within one whole year. So how this will free up an additional five beat officers is unknown.
As staff will be redeployed across the county none of the alleged £200,000 that the custody suite costs to operate will in fact be saved.
I suppose that the (costly and bureacratic) business managers within Kent Police would argue that the budget that they have allocated for staff can now be reallocated within Ashford's business plan, but ultimately the shift of responsibility is being passed to other areas.