COUNCILLORS believe North Yorkshire Police have “missed an opportunity” to improve policing services in Richmondshire.

At Richmondshire District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting last night (Thursday, January 23) Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy was quizzed by members on concerns about the time it will take to transport prisoners around the district.

Committee chairman Councillor John Robinson asked ACC Kennedy whether there had been a consultation in Richmondshire over the move of the custody suite from Northallerton to the new Police headquarters in South Kilvington, near Thirsk.

ACC Kennedy said the decision to move the custody suite could be discussed with the Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan, but it had been fixed.

Councillors were also concerned that the move would mean Richmondshire policing teams would have to travel even further to transport suspected criminals to custody, taking them away from their job for a longer period.

ACC Kennedy said: “I understand the rural nature of Richmondshire – but our professional opinion is that people arrested in a proper, state-of-the-art facility outside the area is better and more effective.

“If we felt we would improve police facilities by having something in Richmond it would be the first thing we would do – and we fully understand the needs of the people of Richmond.”

But Councillor Stuart Parsons said many people in the town had approached him with the opinion that arrests were only made if someone was doing something “really bad” because police “couldn’t be bothered to take people all the way to Northallerton.”

ACC Kennedy disagreed and said the average number of arrests was two every 24 hours.

Inspector Mark Gee, who also attended the meeting, said even when arrests were not made people could still be dealt with.

Councillor Mick Griffiths said: “You had an opportunity to improve the situation in Richmondshire.

“I’m not expecting a custody suite in Richmondshire – but having Richmond police station as a non-designated site to hold low-level offenders; and using private contractors to transport prisoners to custody would be improvements.”

ACC Kennedy said he was willing to look into having private prisoner transport but he suspected it would be too expensive. He said it would not be possible to make Richmond police station available to hold prisoners.

“I care passionately about policing in North Yorkshire and making the best use of facilities,” he said.