A CONTROVERSIAL plan to move Greenock Police Station to an alternative site which could NOT house a custody suite is being given serious consideration by force top brass, the Telegraph can reveal.

Police Scotland chiefs are in discussions about relocating to the former IBM site on Pottery Street - despite warnings that it cannot accommodate internal cells.

Concerns that a detached, 'cabin-like' custody solution may not be able to be sited in its surrounding car park are also understood to have been raised.

The inclusion of a custody suite at any future location has been a key pillar of the Telegraph's Protect our Policing campaign, which was launched after Police Scotland began consulting on plans to close the Rue End Street station.

Greenock Telegraph:

Inverclyde Council’s Local Police and Fire Scrutiny Panel also highlighted the importance of keeping cells available locally in their response to the consultation, stating that they harboured ‘deep concern’ about plans to move to a site without a custody suite.

Despite these warnings, Police Scotland are understood to be giving serious thought to utilising the former IBM site.

A well-placed source, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "The former IBM site is one of the sites under consideration.

"It's believed that it cannot accommodate an internal custody suite and there are also concerns that there may be issues with siting a modular custody suite in its car park.

Local Police and Fire Scrutiny Panel chair David Wilson said the onus was on police bosses to find a new building for the area.

He said: “It’s certainly my view that it needs to have some form of custody suite.

“The concern would be that without it police would have to transfer prisoners to other custody suites around Scotland.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have such a big custody suite and other towns have not had that capacity.

“What must be remembered at the end of the day is that this is the Scottish Government starving the police of money.

“It’s no more complicated than that, they had major settlements with the junior doctors and the teachers and that’s left very little money for the police and fire service.”

Councillor James Daisley, who is Inverclyde Council’s SNP group’s spokesperson for police matters, told the Telegraph that it was ‘unthinkable’ for the area to lose its custody facilities.

He added: “The relocation overall makes a lot of sense, the building currently is not fit for purpose anymore and I think it would make good sense for it to be relocated within Greenock.

“The challenge for me is that we cannot lose any capacity, there must be a 24-hour front desk, we must retain officers and importantly we must retain the custody suite.

“There seem to be uncertainties around whether this particular site has capacity to have a custody suite.

“If there isn’t, a potential solution could be modular police cells, which Police Scotland have used in the past and do use now elsewhere, to create a custody suite which is as good as if not better than what we have now in Greenock.

“The question I would have is, ‘Is this site able to accommodate portable modular cells?’.

“If not, then this site cannot be viable, or Police Scotland will have to come up with another solution.

“They would have to come up with another solution, such as having a separate custody site elsewhere, but it would have to be fit-for-purpose.

“We cannot lose any officers or civilian jobs and we can’t lose that custody suite, because it is unthinkable for us to start ferrying people in custody outwith Greenock.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “While we are consulting on the potential disposal and relocation of Greenock Police Station, we recognise the need for a local policing service for the people of Inverclyde and a police presence in the area will continue, albeit perhaps from another site in Inverclyde yet to be determined. Practical matters, such as a custody provision and public counter service will naturally form part of our considerations.

“We would encourage those with a view on policing in the area to take part in our consultation, as their views will help shape our decision making. The consultation for Greenock is open until Sunday, 31 March, 2024 “