‘Nights in cells cost, but who should pay?’

MCHG 12- 978 Police Commissioner David Lloyd visited XC in Hemel Hempstead.
MCHG 12- 978 Police Commissioner David Lloyd visited XC in Hemel Hempstead.

Suspects who spend a night in the cells after being arrested could have to pay for their bed for the night under proposals being mooted by Hertfordshire’s new police and crime commissioner.

David Lloyd has hit the headlines for his proposed ‘offender pays’ policy – the crime czar’s ideas also include suing offenders who force police to take time off by injuring them, offender-funded anger management courses for those convicted of violent behaviour and ensuring law-breakers meet the full costs of speed awareness courses.

Mr Lloyd said: “If a person spends a night in the cells, that has a cost. That should not come out of the taxpayer’s pocket, but out of theirs.”

He says he wants to see victims supported, and criminals made to pay for the consequences of their actions.

The estimated cost of keeping someone in a police cell is £300 to £400 per night, although Mr Lloyd says this is not necessarily the amount that suspects would be expected to pay.

He said: “This idea is about criminals paying, not making money. It is not born out of a necessity of income.”

The commissioner, who lived in Flamstead, says he welcomes support and criticism from householders.

“Issues will undoubtedly be brought up and that is reasonable,” he said. “From what I have seen people are broadly in support of these ideas, but it is certainly not unanimous.”

Councillor Graham Adshead, who sits on Dacorum Borough Council, reacted positively to the proposal.

He said: “It seems to me that if someone is going to go out and misbehave, it is unreasonable to expect the average, law-abiding tax-payer to fund their night in the cells.

“But it would have to be investigated fully, we can’t expect it of someone who is wrongly arrested or found innocent of their crime.”

Mr Lloyd has promised to look into these issues, as well as those surrounding suspects who are unable to pay. He also has a team consulting the legality of his ideas.

But Ron Tindall, the Liberal Democrat county councillor for St Pauls, Hemel Hempstead, disagrees with the plan.

He said: “I find it strange that the commissioner is proposing these hotel charges given that invitations to a cell cannot normally be refused.

“What about the considerable number of people who come into police hands for their own protection, or who have mental health issues or learning disabilities? Are these people going to be further discriminated against by being charged? The commissioner should have better things to do with his time rather than focus on wacky ideas.”