THE Police Federation has criticised the plans to close the custody suite at Selby Police Station.

The move is set to create savings of about £65,000 per year but the federation's North Yorkshire secretary, Sergeant Mike Stubbs, claimed yesterday that travelling further to custody suites increased risks for both prisoners and officers.

“Officers will now have to transport prisoners significant distances which will take them away from the communities that they should be policing," he said.

"This also puts our members at risk – the more time that drunk, violent or vulnerable prisoners have to spend in police vehicles, the greater the risk to their welfare. We have examples where prisoners have become unresponsive whilst being transported and it is only the prompt actions of officers that have saved their lives.”

He said he had pointed out to police chiefs that it was decided to close the Selby cells in 2000, but the decision was later reversed.

But the Chief Constable said the number of prisoners taken into custody had fallen sharply in recent years and there was sufficient capacity at York police station cells for additional prisoners from Selby.

Sgt Stubbs said the planned investment in new handheld computers was 'very welcome' but the equipment must be capable of functioning across the whole of North Yorkshire, including parts where mobile coverage was limited or non-existent.

The Chief Constable said the problems of poor mobile signals could be overcome, for example with use of satellite technology, which was coming down in price.