A NEW state of the art Police Investigation Centre (PIC) has been opened in Bury St Edmunds.
The centre on River Lane, the fifth of six PICs to open across Suffolk and Norfolk, was officially opened yesterday by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache.
The six centres were funded through a Private Finance Initiative which will see Norfolk and Suffolk Police pay £3 million a year for all six centres, for 30 years.
The £3 million includes building costs and services like cleaning and laundry.
The idea of the centre is that it allows police officers to question subjects and hold them in custody all under the same roof.
This would mean less time is spent by officers in custody, freeing them up to police the streets.
When a detainee is taken in they will be checked with an ultra violet light for traces of SmartWater, a special clear liquid that only appears when exposed to UV light. Each batch has a chemical signature unique to a location allowing police to easily link a suspect to a location.
The idea is that if people know they will be checked on entering the station for signs of SmartWater, the system will become more successful as a deterrent of crime.
Detainees are then taken to one of two search rooms where they are checked for weapons and illegal substances.
There is also a special forensic search room for more serious crimes.
This room features one-use forensic tents, a system where the suspect is searched in a DNA-clean tent and then the tent and the evidence are both sent away for analysis. This makes sure none of the DNA or forensic evidence is missed.
The main hub of the building is ‘the bridge’ where detainees are booked and processed.
They feature a partially enclosed area where the detainee can give their details without fear of being overheard.
Chief Inspector Roger Wiltshire, head of custody for all six PICs, said: “The detainees need to be able to tell us anything they need to.
“An example of this is if someone has HIV or a drug addition and wants to tell us that without being overheard.
“The bridge is on a raised area for added security and has dozens of CCTV cameras.”
The centre’s 24 cells feature full CCTV and even a life signs monitor.
The system monitors the breathing of the detainee and alerts staff of any dramatic change.
The unit also features cells with reinforced glass doors which are used for prisoners that need close monitoring or if they are claustrophobic.
Chief Insp Wiltshire said the new centres were crucial to future-proof the region’s police force.
He said: “With the new building and system they can deal with several cases at once.
“You have to understand that some of the inner town stations are coming towards the end of their lives. There is only so much you can do to maintain standards, doing nothing was simply not an option.
“The idea of the new Police Investigation Unit is partly to speed up the process of booking and interviewing detainees but more importantly to future-proof ourselves for the next few decades.”