MODERN cells have opened at Chelmsford police station’s custody suite after a £3million refurbishment.

An 18 month project has finished with the opening of the new suite on Monday at the building in New Street which has increased the number of cells from 11 to 15.

It has also introduced a computer system called Genesys [COR] which will allow custody sargeants to control activity inside the cells from one screen.

The system will allow officers to control entry and exiting of cells while also alerting them to panic alarms.

Chief Insp Joe Wrigley, custody commander at the station, said he was pleased with the new suite.

He said: “Chelmsford is a city with one of the busiest night time economies across the county.

“Its custody suite is one of the most central and accessible in Essex so we needed to increase provision to meet demand.

"The opening of the new suite means police officers can patrol the town in a more efficient way, returning to the streets more quickly after taking a detainee to a local suite rather than having to travel to another.”

The suite was designed to meet duty of care codes of practice to prevent detainees from self harming or trying dispose evidence.

Chief Insp Wrigley explained: “We have a duty of care towards those who come into our custody and are governed by legislation and codes of practice around this issue.

"Many of those who come into custody do so as a result of some kind of crisis and we need to make sure we are equipped to look after them while making sure they are answerable to the criminal justice process.

“We also have a duty of care to our staff and have made every effort to create a safe and appropriate environment for them to work in.”

Other facilities include in the refurbishment include increased CCTV coverage, an observation cell, exercise yard, meal preparation room and a disabled toilet and shower area.

The work was done as part of a long term programme to redevelop suites across the county.