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Police holding cells ‘should be abolished’

police station
File photo

Holding cells in police stations should be abolished, trade union Isotita’s police branch chairman Nikos Loizidis said on Thursday.

Speaking to Alpha TV, he said problems in holding cells have been caused by overcrowding, and that the existing facilities “cannot deal with the numbers of people on trial or on remand anymore”.

He added that police stations across Cyprus are facing the same problem, and that facilities have been “overloaded”.

The root of the problem, he said, is that “we do not have one single space where these people can be held.”

He called for the creation of purpose-built holding cells to house people on remand and on trial and said the specifications of such a building should be drawn from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the prevention of torture.

However, he said, “they are not listening to us”.

“Outside Cyprus, what police station exactly has two cells inside where people are held for 24 hours at a time and does not have detention centres?”

Additionally, he said, police staff should not be guarding cells, and this should instead be done by “professionals who perform that task as their job”.

He also said that the government should be prepared to invest in the creation of new holding cells, saying “for solutions to be found, you must pay”.

Loizidis’ statements come days after ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides released a report decrying the miserable conditions at the police holding centre in Limassol.

The report declared they are overcrowded, have inadequate ventilation, and rundown toilet facilities.

The Limassol facility can house up to 34 people and is divided into three wings: one wing for prisoners, convicts, and those awaiting trial, one for minors, and one for administrative detainees.

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