AVON and Somerset Police is keeping its custody service in-house – after a review found it would cost taxpayers £150,000-a-year more to outsource it.

We reported last summer that the force was considering outsourcing its custody suites, prisoner transport and identification services to private firms – and that if approved, the changes could come into force as early as this April.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens examined two detailed business cases - an in-house model and another which outsourced parts of police custody to a private company.

The business cases suggested the private company option would be £599,000 more expensive over four years.

Ms Mountstevens said: “I was very clear that there had to be savings from an outsourced model.

“After carefully considering both options it is clear that there are no guaranteed savings to be made in the four-years of the contract.

“Looking after some of the most vulnerable members of our community in police custody can be difficult and high risk.

“Custody services in Avon and Somerset will continue to be run by experienced and dedicated police staff as it has been for many successful years.”

Chief Constable Nick Gargan said: “This was a very close run decision but of course, the Police and Crime Commissioner must have the ultimate say.

“We respect her decision and will work with vigour and determination to ensure the new in-house arrangements are a success."

We reported this week how nine custody suites in Avon and Somerset are set to close this year, including those in Taunton and Bridgwater.

A new custody centre is included as part of the giant HQ nearing completion in Bridgwater, which is due to open later this year.