Building work has started on a new custody and crime centre serving the Sheffield and Rotherham areas.

The purpose-built facility on Shepcote Lane near Meadowhall will include a fifty-cell custody suite that will replace existing suites in Ecclesfield, Moss Way, Sheffield city centre and Rotherham.

It will also house the services that wrap around a police investigation with investigative officers and partner agencies working from the same building.

For example, health and social services staff will be on site working with those who commit crime to address the causes of their criminal behaviour in order to reduce further offending.

Chief Constable David Crompton said: “Custody staff have one of the most challenging roles in policing South Yorkshire and the new centre will provide them with integrated, modern facilities to manage high-risk situations and return officers to the streets at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Like every force across the country we have to make significant financial savings but at the same time we need a workforce properly equipped to tackle crime and protect the public. The £19m project to deliver new custody facilities for Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley is a significant part of this process.

“Replacing outdated custody suites in Rotherham and Sheffield with one purpose-built centre will enable us to save approximately £1.2m a year. This will be achieved through a reduction in staffing as custody sergeants and detention officers retire with other revenue savings and energy efficiencies contributing too.

“Furthermore it will be a real step forward to see investigating officers and partners co-located with the custody staff, providing a more effective service when dealing with some of our most difficult customers.”

South Yorkshire Police received planning permission for the centre in November 2014 and contractors Willmott Dixon moved onto the site in January this year. It is expected that the centre will be ready for use in spring 2016.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said: “With further government cuts to the police grant and the additional strain on resources, we are continually looking for innovative ways to police South Yorkshire.

“The new modern custody facilities will replace old out of date buildings that are currently inefficient.  The new facilities will be more eco-friendly with updated technology and provide a better environment for all that use them.”

Anthony Dillon, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Yorkshire Police on the new custody suite through the Scape Framework.

“We have delivered a significant number of custody suites and will be able to bring that experience and expertise to save both time and money on the project. We will ensure we maximise the local economic benefits through local labour, apprentices, suppliers and subcontractors.”