The custody suite at Enniskillen Police Station will not be fully operational until early 2021.

The suite has been closed since March 2018 for refurbishment and Superintendent Clive Beatty, District Commander for Fermanagh and Omagh, told members at a Policing Committee meeting in Omagh on Tuesday that the withdrawal of the original contractor delayed the refurbishment.

At the minute, people who are arrested are transferred to Omagh custody suite for processing by the PSNI.

Enniskillen councillor Keith Elliott as Superintendent Beatty for an update on the refurbishment of the suite and if there had been any adverse impact on officers being able to do their jobs because they had to transfer people to Omagh.

"March 2018 it closed for refurbishment," explained Superintendent Beatty at the meeting. "Money was set aside and contractors appointed shovel ready I think is the term.

"The contractor withdrew and when the contractor withdrew we had to go through a very rigorous tendering process to get another contractor."

Due to the length of the tendering process a new budget year was entered and resulted in money having to be found again as the PSNI are unable to carry over money from a previous budget.

"They agreed they could find money to do it. Eventually got a tender and contractor in place who have started some preparatory work but because of the scale of the refurbishment required it is going to be early 2021 at the earliest before the suite will be fully functional."

Although the absence of a custody suite means officers making arrests in Fermanagh have to transfer the arrested to Omagh, Superintendent Beatty said that the level of arrests has maintained with officers dealing with some cases in a more efficient way.

"It would be wrong of me to say it hasn’t impacted on the 27 miles driving to Omagh, the booking-in time in custody was as is and remains the same and the 27 miles back home. But with all those little summary justices being implemented and a process team to interview the suspects, this allows the officer to get on duty more often and I take heart from the statistics. Arrest levels are still the same, prosecution through court roughly still the same and there is no major increase in the type of crime we make these arrests for."