Police Investigation CentresEdit profile
Capita Architecture were asked to develop a set of new custody centres for 2 large Police Constabularies in South East England, our brief was to create state-of-art custody facilities and improve on the standard perception of Custodial spaces for both Police Staff and Detainees. We started the scheme design with detailed discussions with Custodial Operators and Police Staff on the good and bad points of Police Custody Suites where they had worked in the past. It quickly became clear that the traditional hard process led custodial environment impacted upon the internal atmosphere creating a negative environment, difficult to navigate spaces where staff would rather not be – Police recruitment into custody centres had traditionally been a difficult task. Any justice type building is a complex function lead building to design and a custody centre is one of the largest areas of risk for any Police Force, it is imperative to the project that Custodial design is carried out correctly to modern standards. Our approach to the design of the centre was to ensure that the buildings primary function, the safe processing of detainees in a ligature free, low harm environment that responded to the detainees human rights was catered for first. Another of the requirements of the brief was to design a centre which could be used in several locations across the country, our innovation was to design the detainee process layout such that each part of the flow could be scaled up or down without altering the overall structure of the layout. This allowed the Police to construct anything from an 8 cell custody centre up to a 40 cell centre using the same layout principals, the advantage to the Police being that officers could move from suite to suite and easily know their way around each building. Once the design of the detainee process layout was complete we began to introduce our new concepts to improve the environment of the suite, these centred around the ideas of the introduction of natural light and a garden space into the design in such a way that it became a part suite focus – the main charge desk – and was then used as a navigation aid around the building. Whilst the overriding requirement was the safe processing of detainees, the ‘light corridor’ concept allowed the introduction of the external environment to enliven the space, maintaining the privacy and safety required of a Custody Suite. The light corridor opened up the building space creating a well lit centre which continued into the two storey office space as a double height atria. The concept of natural day light introduction was then continued into other Custody spaces including the cellular accommodation to improve the internal environment for detainees as well as staff. This then flowed into the external design of the building whereby the elevation and structure was designed to visually balance the required strength and justice of the custody areas against the lightness and openness of the first floor office spaces. The two styles where then intersected by a welcoming approachable public reception area. Capita Architecture is now reserve bidder for the project and the Police Authority stated that the design exceeded expectation and brought a new slant to the Police Custody concept. In particular, they favoured the fresh approach used to integrate natural daylight into the scheme.