‘Hand yourself in’ note at police station removed
A police station notice telling wanted criminals the best time to hand themselves in was put up in "good faith" but has been removed the force has confirmed.
The notice, which relates to the Ministry of Justice decision to move all remand hearings for the region, including Shropshire, to Kidderminster Magistrates Court, had been put up on the door of Worcester Police Station.
West Mercia's Custody Chief Inspector, Ian Wall said the note had been written in good faith, but had since been taken down.
He said: "We are aware of a poster referencing some changes to the system. The poster, which was written in good faith, has since been removed and does not reflect operational guidance.
"Individuals wanted by the courts often hand themselves in at police stations and we would encourage them to do so at the earliest opportunity to allow us to process them efficiently through the system prior to any court appearance."
Under the changes people from Shropshire and Worcestershire held in custody for remand hearings are taken to Kidderminster for the proceedings by bus – instead of Telford Magistrates Court.
Because the bus leaves Shropshire at 7.30am, anyone who is remanded or who hands themselves in after that time is held until the transport leaves at the same time the following day.
Solicitors have said it is leading to police 'babysitting' people in custody.
The note on the police station advised people "the best time to hand yourself in is between 10pm and 4am to enable transport arrangements to be made to Kidderminster".
It also explained that people who handed themselves in after the bus has gone would face extra time in the cells.
It stated: "If you hand yourself in at Worcester Police Station after 6am for a court warrant you will have to wait in police detention until the following morning (24hrs)".
Solicitors in Shropshire have been highly critical of the Ministry of Justice decision to move remand hearings out of the county.
It follows the closure of Shrewsbury Magistrates Court, leaving the county with one magistrates court at Telford.
The Ministry of Justice has previously defended the changes saying: “Following a public consultation, remand cases were moved from Telford to Kidderminster Magistrates Court to improve listings and trial management at Telford.
“There is no evidence to suggest that there has been a significant increase in the numbers of defendants awaiting an available court, or that cases are not being heard within 24 hours.”