VOLUNTEERS are being sought to check on the welfare of people held in custody at Greenock's under threat police office - as concerns mount over the possible withdrawal of cell provision at a new station.

Police Scotland opened a public consultation before Christmas on plans to close the 'no longer fit for purpose' HQ and relocate to an alternative, and as yet unconfirmed, site in the district.

Now, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is asking for help to check that people held in custody are being properly treated.

The independent custody visitor scheme takes on individuals from a variety of backgrounds from a cross-section of the community to monitor those detained, with no specialist skills required and full training and support provided.

The SPA is recruiting in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire for the 'important role' at the same time as proposals to shut stations in Greenock and Paisley are rolled out.

The building on Rue End Street opened in 1975 and was considered state of the art at the time but an estimated spend of around £2.5m is now needed just for essential maintenance work.

READ MOREStatistics reveal almost 5,000 people held in Greenock police cells last year

Chief Superintendent Gordon McCreadie, divisional commander for policing in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, recently told a police and fire scrutiny panel meeting that it would cost 'many millions of pounds more than this' to bring the near-50-year-old hub up to a modern standard.

The current base has 57 cells, used mainly for people from Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, with capacity to hold arrested persons from Glasgow, Clydebank or further afield, and almost 5,000 people were held in Greenock's custody suite during 2023 alone.

Greenock Telegraph: Greenock police office on Rue End StreetGreenock police office on Rue End Street (Image: NQ)

However, CSI McCreadie said 'significant amounts of money' have already been spent on the dated cells 'simply to comply with our statutory duties and human rights obligations', with the maximum working capacity limited to an occupancy of 30 cells 'due to demand and staffing profiles'.

He said: "The cells are built on a number of levels with officers and staff having to move people in custody up and down stairs at times.

"When people are under the influence of drink or drugs, or are otherwise vulnerable this is far from ideal.

"Until recently officers were queueing on stairs with people in custody until they could be processed.

READ MORE: Portable 'cabin' cells mooted as possible custody solution for policing in Inverclyde

"This is not acceptable and we had a duty to act on it to prevent officers, or people in custody coming to significant harm."

A smaller number of affordable ‘modular’ units, used elsewhere in the country, have been mooted as a potential solution, with the area's police chief stating that these would be 'substantial pre-fabricated and designed for purpose cell blocks'.

Greenock Telegraph: Chief Superintendent Gordon McCreadieChief Superintendent Gordon McCreadie (Image: Twitter)

He added: "The proposals are not to withdraw policing services from local communities, nor to reduce resource numbers of front counter provisions.

"The greatest challenge is the provision of a custody centre within an appropriate proximity for Inverclyde, which will need to be carefully thought through and a plan developed if we are to proceed.

"If that were not achievable, mitigation would be required to ensure there was no detriment to local policing provision, officer safety and the safety of those in our care."

To find out more on the custody visitor scheme, visit spa.police.uk/what-we-do/independent-custody-visiting-scotland/become-a-volunteer/.

Police Scotland's consultation on the proposed closure of Greenock police office closes on March 31 and can be accessed here: consult.scotland.police.uk/estates/43adea62/.