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Work to start on RCMP cells renovations

Work is expected to get underway in the new year on Nanaimo RCMP detachment’s prisoner cell safety renovations.

Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong, Nanaimo RCMP spokeswoman and the officer overseeing renovations, said the project valued at about $800,000 is expected to take three months and scheduled to begin in January.

The cells are being renovated to meet new safety standards based on the recommendations of coroners inquests following deaths by suicide of prisoners in police cells across B.C.

RCMP cells must meet higher safety standards to handle prisoners who might be mentally or emotionally distraught or under the influence of drugs or alcohol and prone to harming themselves.

“Prisoners will be taken to Ladysmith detachment,” Armstrong said. “We’re making alternate arrangements for processing of our prisoners locally. That will be done in another location of our building.”

But Nanaimo has 12 cells compared to Ladysmith’s three, which means police will have to get creative to deal with the temporary shortfall in accommodations.

“If we pick up a drunk will be trying to call a responsible adult to take him,” Armstrong said. “If it’s a public safety offense they won’t be released, but if it’s for stolen property – unless they’ve got a big record when quite often we’ll hold them for the judge in the morning – they could be released.”

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