£490,000 to make Paddington Green habitable

Terror suspects held in cells will be able to watch films and listen to music

For more than 40 years it has revelled in its reputation as Britain's most unwelcoming police station. Deep below Paddington Green's ugly 1960s facade its bomb-proof cells have provided an unpleasant home to some very unpleasant people.

The occupants of the 12ft by 12ft cells have included numerous members of the IRA, the failed 21/7 London bombers and many other al-Qa'ida suspects.

They and their lawyers have all complained about the Spartan facilities. The 16 cells have no windows; just a bed and a toilet. In winter, they're too cold and in summer too hot. Their white tiles were even rumoured to be symmetrical to prevent suspects from focusing on an image to block out interrogation.

But all that is about to change. Following recommendations from Lord Carlile, the official reviewer of the Government's terrorism laws, the cells are about to "re-open" after being refurbished at a cost of £490,000.

They will now include an "audio and visual system" where prisoners will be able to watch films and listen to music. They will also have their own desks with writing material provided. Yet the decision to afford terror suspects this type of treatment has not gone down well with some counter-terror officers.

One told The Independent: "If you beat up your wife or have a fight down the pub you will be slung in a cramped cell with nothing more than a toilet and a mattress. But if you are a terrorist intent on blowing things up then you get a luxurious cell with a telly and a CD player. It doesn't seem right."

The decision to upgrade Paddington Green's facilities was taken after legislation was passed allowing the police to hold terror suspects for almost a month in the cells. Lord Carlile's human rights committee said the cells were not fit to house suspects for any longer than 14 days. The refurbishment began in January this year and will be complete on 29 May.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: "The Metropolitan Police undertook a review of facilities for detainees who can be held for extended periods of time. This was in light of recommendations for improvements following an independent review of the facilities by organisations including the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment.

"As a result of this the custody facilities have been refurbished taking into account the fact that certain individuals can be held for 14 days under the Terrorism Act, if the police wish, or 28 days if a senior judge approves."

The police now provide a range of films and music, and the suspected terrorists can choose when to watch and listen to them. However, they cannot, the police stress, access outside channels. "So they won't be able to watch the news or EastEnders or anything like that," the spokeswoman added.

Asked for the reason for such comforts being introduced, she said: "The suggestion was that it is inhumane to keep people locked up for that length of time without stimulation."

Terrorist prisoners, since the rise of global Islamist jihadism, have also been treated differently to mainstream suspects in other ways. Because officers are looking to capture residue from explosives, they must be careful to ensure that the suspects do not come into contact with anything that they could later claim contaminated them. So the insides of the cells are coated in brown paper ahead of the suspect's arrival.

Suspects are transported in low-mileage hire cars which are covered in brown paper and thoroughly cleaned. Terror suspects are immediately dressed in white forensic suits, to negate the possibility of the clothes underneath becoming cross-contaminated.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore