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Flintshire arrests ‘down 45%’ since Mold custody suite closure

CRIMINALS are being let off with cautions and fines since the closure of Mold’s custody suite, it is claimed.

Senior figures within the county’s legal system say the number of offenders brought before the courts has dropped dramatically – by up to 45% – because of a lack of police officers in Flintshire since the facility was mothballed 12 months ago.

Anyone police want to detain must now be accompanied by two officers – sometimes 50% of a shift – to Wrexham or St Asaph, meaning they are away from their stations for far longer periods.

And legal professionals say they have seen a big difference in the number of cases reaching Flintshire Magistrates Court at Mold.

They believe local justice is not being served properly.

A solicitor, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “There has been a dramatic change since the closure of Mold custody suite.

“People are being given fixed penalties and cautions left, right and centre. There was a recent case where someone was cautioned for arson!”

He added: “The public don’t realise what is going on.

“I was told the number of cases now coming to court is down 45%. The reorganised system is just not working in Flintshire.”

A police source confirmed there had been a huge drop, but said it was not the fault of the bobby on the beat.

“Without a custody suite in the county, an arrest means two officers are away from the patch for a long time,” he said.

“Arrests which go through to court prosecutions are down dramatically.”

Journalist Elwyn Roberts, who has covered the courts at Mold for more than 40 years, said: “Everyone blames the fact we no longer have a custody suite in the county.

“It will be interesting to see the statistics for how many penalty tickets and cautions were given out in the first six months of this year.”

Ian Shannon, deputy chief constable of North Wales Police, said last year that keeping the county’s only custody facility open permanently would have cost £750,000.

The force instead spent £175,000 on essential improvements to bring it up to the required standard.

It shut in July last year, but is still available as an emergency reserve for special operations. However, there are still hopes it will reopen.

Mr Roberts added: “Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed.”