Nearly 600 people have
already been locked up inside Northampton’s new, state-of-the-art criminal justice centre after it opened one month ago.
The £9 million cell block, which was built on the Brackmills estate, opened its doors to criminals on September 24.
The first people to be “welcomed” in for a night in the new cells came from Wellingborough, after custody initially opened only to detainees from there.
Two days later, custody facilities from Weston Favell police station transferred to the new centre, before the cells at Campbell Square, in The Mounts, closed the following day.
Over the first weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, 61 people were arrested and kept at the cells, police told the Chronicle & Echo.
Senior officers revealed that in the first three weeks since the new cell block opened, 560 people were arrested and kept in.
Inspector Steve Gray said there had been one or two teething problems but said the move had so far been a success.
He said: “I can only speak for custody but certainly the working environment is fantastic compared to the old properties. Staff are getting settled in, we have made changes to the working practices and people are getting used to those changes.
“Some technical issues cropped up and we are resolving those but our computer systems are working really, really well, the cell areas are working really well and our partners we work with are getting used to the changes.”
As well as providing custody services for a huge chunk of the county, stretching from Brackley to Wellingborough, the new building will also house CID and other investigative teams.
And while officers and police staff get used to their new surroundings, the new cell blocks have come as a shock to some of the county’s more prolific troublemakers.
Insp Gray said: “We have had some of the regulars through here who are quite surprised.The first thing they tend to say is it is so bright.
“A cell is a cell to anyone who is being locked up but the temperature can be kept even throughout the building now and they are being looked after a lot better.”
He added: “It is confusing to them because it is a whole new building and some of them are actually used to coming to Campbell Square.”
Northamptonshire Police says it paid for the centre without borrowing, after using £7 million of reserves to help meet the construction costs.