He said: “As a force, where appropriate, we are looking to reduce the number of people that are brought into custody and reduce bureaucracy as part of our organisational review, and this has been factored into our decision to close Leyland custody suite.
“It is right and proper that officers should routinely consider the best way of dealing with offenders and consider alternatives to arrest such as restorative justice, voluntary attendance, PNDs, community resolutions, youth referrals, caution and conditional cautions and directions to leave.
“Officers across the force are increasingly being encouraged to implement effective and appropriate alternatives to arrest and out of court disposals, especially when dealing with young or vulnerable people, to deliver a high quality, victim focused service to the public of Lancashire.
“However, we must be clear that if someone faces serious allegations our position is that they will continue to be arrested, questioned and dealt with appropriately.”
Currently, the police station on Lancastergate in Leyland has a 24-hour custody office plus a custody reception team which process all incoming cases and paperwork.
This frees up arresting officers to get back onto the street.
Fears have been raised that the move will mean fewer police to tackle crime because they will be instead be occupied transporting suspects.
Ursula Walton, chairman of the bench at Chorley Magistrates’ Court, has joined the calls for a U-turn to be made on the decision to safeguard justice in the community.
She said: “Our chief concern is the erosion of local justice.
“It will mean that local people won’t necessarily be taken to court before magistrates with good local knowledge. “They will be taken somewhere where they could have no local links. The danger is we get justice more and more remote from the people who receive it.”
Under the new plans, any person who needs to be remanded in custody will be taken to stations in neighbouring towns across the county.
Where it is not possible that they appear at the local court, they will appear at one in Preston, Blackburn or Skelmersdale.
This will mean Chorley Magistrates’ Court, which deals with remand cases, will see a dramatic reduction in their work.
The move will not affect Leyland Magistrates’ Court to the same degree because it does not deal with remand cases.
Lancashire Constabulary say the move will save around Â£500,000 a year in manning the cells and costs such as lighting them, but say the closure will not result in job losses.
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said: “Decisions are still being made about when the custody suite will close but it will be no later than April 2012.
“Although the custody suite will be closed and no longer in operation 24/7, it will remain in a state of readiness should it need to be used for any planned events or major incidents.
“Clearly decisions of this nature are difficult for us to take but all the choices have been considered in detail and it is estimated that the force will save in the region of Â£500,000 a year from the closure of this suite.
“As a result of the closure, detainees will be taken to either Preston, Skelmersdale or Blackburn depending on where they are arrested.
“We are currently planning for the closure with the aim of causing as little disruption as possible to both the community that this custody area serves and also to local policing.
“The closure forms part of a much wider programme which has considered, and which continues to consider, all aspects of the Constabulary’s business in order to find in the region of Â£42 million in savings over the next four years.
“The public can be reassured that we are doing all we can to protect them from those intent on committing criminal offences without local policing suffering as a consequence.”
Arrest fewer people, police told