Taxpayers’ money is being squandered as police officers have become “full time drivers” transporting people to available holding cells across the island, the police branch of the Isotita trade union said on Monday.

Complaints emerged that people required to be sent to a holding cell are often transported across the island – say, from Nicosia to Polis Chrysochous in Paphos – due to a lack of available facilities.

Other road trips include people being sent from Larnaca to Limassol.

Writing to police chief Stelios Papatheodorou, head of the police wing of the trade union Nikos Loizides said that the matter must be resolved immediately as it is an incredible waste of time and money.

It was explained that anyone who must be held for more than 24 hours has the right to certain facilities, such as a well-ventilated area with physical exercise areas and recreational facilities.

That may include suspects, witnesses, convicts, and irregular migrants.

Loizides explained that one way to reduce the bottle neck is to prevent such a wide array of people being funneled into the narrowly defined areas.

He focused on irregular migrants waiting to be deported, whom he said could be held in a newly established facility specifically for that purpose – therefore reducing the burden on other holding areas.

Referring to the Menoyia centre, Loizidou said that some irregular migrants are not transported there until detention and deportation orders are issued, along with having undergone examination by a doctor.

He added that when a foreigner is arrested for illegal residence they are first transferred to detention centres but can only be transported to Menoyia on weekdays when there is a doctor.

Loizidou explained, however, that when they are taken to such centres they are still permitted their mobile phones and unrestricted access to outdoor areas, raising the question as to why they are transported to holding areas.

He called for a single area to facilitate such cases to be established.