24 hours in Lancashire Police custody costs more than a weekend in Paris or a night at the Ritz

A weekend in Paris, including flights, is cheaper than 24 hours in Lancashire Police custody, an investigation has found
A weekend in Paris, including flights, is cheaper than 24 hours in Lancashire Police custody, an investigation has found

A weekend in a romantic luxury four-star hotel in Paris costs less than 24 hours in Lancashire Police custody - and that's including the flights.

Taxpayers are coughing up £580-a-day for every occupied cell across the county, and that fee doesn't include food, cleaning, maintenance, interpreters, and even "private specialist healthcare", an investigation has found.

Staffing costs an extra £740 a day on top, while those being kept under lock-and-key for questioning are also offered a lengthy menu of food and drink, including Cadbury's hot chocolate and all-day breakfasts.

READ MORE:: Here's the menu suspects in police custody across Lancashire are offered

Last year, the average time somebody was locked up in custody was 14-and-a-half hours, Lancashire Police said, at a cost of £350.

That equates to £24.14 per hour, making the 12-hour cost of keeping somebody in a cell £289.68 and the 24-hour cost £579.36.

That's more expensive than a weekend in Paris, a night at the five-star Ritz hotel in Mayfair, London; hiring a luxury car for the day; or a round of golf at Royal Lytham.

READ MORE:: Ten things that are surprisingly cheaper than a night in Lancashire Police cells

The eye-watering figure will raise eyebrows amongst some, especially with Lancashire Police having to make savings of £84 million since 2010, with a further £20m to find by 2023, leading to 750 fewer officers on our streets.

But it's still cheaper than elsewhere. In 2017, the Metropolitan Police in London revealed it cost £449 to keep somebody in custody for 12 hours, The Times reported.

The same year, police in North Wales shuttered cells that were costing £624 per prisoner per day, in order to pay for extra sergeants and four officers in the area.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said people will want to know why the costs in Lancashire are so high and how they compare to facilities elsewhere.

He said: "It's really important to have a well-funded criminal justice system, but the right balance needs to be struck so costs do not spiral out of control."

In a statement, Lancashire Police said the meals it serves are microwavable dishes with long shelf lives, and argued private health care is "more cost effective and efficient" than taking detainees to hospital, though in emergencies they are still taken to A&E.

It said: "We have a duty of care to the safely detain people in our custody and there are legal and ethical guidelines we must follow.

“It is important that detainees are treated with respect and that their needs are catered for – this includes making sure they are adequately fed and hydrated and that they receive appropriate healthcare where necessary.

“We operate a 24/7 custody model across six different sites, the cost of which is in line with other forces.

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "It is important to remember that those in custody have been arrested but not been convicted of any crime.

"People find themselves in custody for a number of reasons and many are vulnerable themselves and include children.

"Police have a duty of care to all detainees and therefore it is only right that people who are held in custody are treated with courtesy, respect and have their basic needs catered for, including dietary requirements and medical needs.

"The supply of ambient food for detainees is part of a national contract across a number of forces across the country which helps deliver the best value for money.

"My office manages the Independent Custody Visitor scheme, which provides independent oversight of people detained in police custody, where local members of our communities can make recommendations on improvements and play a valuable role in maintaining public confidence.

"National inspectors have regularly recognised Lancashire Constabulary as one of the more efficient forces in the country in the way that it operates, utilising the resources that we have available to us after making savings of £84m from our budget since 2010.

"I continue to hold the Chief Constable [Andy Rhodes] to account around this important area of business and scrutinise the operational decisions the force makes."