OLD library books placed in police cells have been responsible for a fall in assaults on custody officers in Bridlington.
Following a successful pilot in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Library Service and Humberside Police are aiming to roll out a scheme across the East Riding, which will see old book stocks donated for use in all of the the force’s custody suites.
Inspector Colin Waddington, the head of Bridlington Police, said novels and history books seemed to be doing the trick in the custody suite in Bridlington, with the number of assaults on staff down as well as the amount of incidents where people have become aggressive.
He said: “One of the requirements we have to do when people are in custody is to provide them with reading materials but that can mean ending up with dog-eared magazines and newspapers from three weeks ago. It’s quite a stressful place for people – invariably they don’t want to be there – and this is a diversionary tactic.
“Six, eight or ten hours is probably not a long time to be in custody. If you have nothing but four walls and a buzzer, it can divert people and calm them down.”
Insp Waddington said there were no copies of The Great Escape among the 150 volumes: “I don’t want to be giving anyone ideas. It’s your novels, World War history books. The beauty is if they want to take the book away they can.
“As a custody lead for Bridlington I get to know if there has been any assaults or incidents in custody and I am not getting them through.”
Similar schemes elsewhere in the country have proved hugely successful and have seen incidents of inappropriate behaviour in custody suites decrease.
The council approached Humberside Police with a view to setting up a scheme and allocated several boxes of books for use at Bridlington Police Station.
Books which have been withdrawn from stock but are in reasonable condition are loaned by the library service and are kept at the desk in the holding cells.
A similar collaboration between the library service and the police in the London Borough of Sutton has resulted in a calmer atmosphere and ‘markedly improved’ behaviour in the cells. Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for rural issues and cultural services, said: “East Riding of Yorkshire Council is delighted to be working in partnership with Humberside Police on such a worthwhile scheme.
“The books being collected for use in the custody suites are earmarked for recycling, so this is a good way of ensuring our resources are getting best possible use and are having a positive influence.
“The scheme is an excellent example of how the library service is providing wider benefits to the community.”