A new state-of-the-art custody suite is nearing completion at Henry Street Garda station, which Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan expects to be operational by Christmas.
It is something that the Chief Superintendent has wanted since his arrival into the post as head Garda in the Limerick division seven years ago. “When I started here, one of the biggest risks I saw was the separation between our front services desk and how we process our prisoners. Both parties have rights,” he told the Joint Policing Committee meeting on 8 December.
Under the old system, any suspect arrested was brought through the main Henry Street entrance, before being brought down two flights of stairs. Now, prisoners will be escorted in the back via Bishops Quay, where Superintendent Derek Smart explained how the new system works.
“There are cameras all around us, and the white boxes here are audio, so sound is recorded as well. It’s bringing us up to where we need to be as a modern police force,” said Superintendent Smart.
Inside, the high-tech facility has cameras and sound recording equipment all around to ensure greater transparency and protection for both members of An Garda Siochana and prisoners. The search room even has a line in the ground.
“If we have to do a more intimate search that is authorised, the camera is pixelated at the far side of the room. Everyone has the assurance that anything recorded beyond the line can’t be seen by the camera. The sound is still there. It takes away any allegation that we are making or anybody in our custody is making.”
There are now six interview rooms, double the previous amount, in the station. “Our interview rooms upstairs were half the size of these,” added Superintendent Smart.
Chief Superintendent Sheahan sees it as a “centre of excellence”, where the majority of suspects in custody in Limerick will be housed. Alongside the recently constructed Wexford Garda Station, he believes that it will be the most modernised facility of its kind in the country.