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Lawyers get green light to fight custody suite closure

A lawyers' body has won High Court permission to challenge the closure of a PSNI custody suite covering a population of up to 200,000 people.

Ards and North Down Solicitors' Association has been granted leave to seek a judicial review of the shutdown of holding cells at Bangor police station.

The custody suite closed at midnight last night as part of a wider £1m savings plan.

Legal action was taken amid claims of a failure to carry out proper consultation before the move was rubber-stamped. Lawyers for the association also argued that an equality impact assessment was not conducted.

Mr Justice Maguire ruled that an arguable case has been established. The judge refused a further request to mothball the closure until the court case ends.

But the association confirmed it will be seeking an order for the custody suite to be reopened should it succeed after a full hearing early next year.

Outside court, its chairman, Clive Fullerton, claimed the loss of the Bangor facilities will have a major impact on north Down and the Ards Peninsula.

With the closest holding cells now set to be in Belfast, he said: "This is losing a custody suite in an area of population of 180-200,000 people."

Mr Fullerton added: "We are there on a daily basis, looking after the interests of people who are arrested.

"Vulnerable adults and children will now be taken to very large facilities at Musgrave Street in Belfast.

"There are concerns for community safety and the response times of police officers."

Belfast Telegraph