Exeter Police HQ & Custody Suite Exeter, UK

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Devon and Cornwall Police


Middlemoor, Exeter




Blue Light

This new £26m police and custody suite was completed on time and under budget.

By creating a more efficient layout, we were able to replan the custody element and add in the additional rooms and affray routes without increasing the building area.

Devon and Cornwall Police had previously gained planning consent for this scheme following a protracted 5-year design process. 


The scheme that was consented – particularly the custody element – was non-compliant with design guidance and best practice. For example, there were a significant number of dead ends and there was underprovision of a number of rooms.

Corstorphine & Wright were tasked to work closely with operational police partners and the subcontracting supply chain to rapidly redesign the entire scheme internally – while managing to deal with it as a non-material amendment to the original consent.

This whole process took just 2 months. 

We successfully created a design that delivers compliance while helping reduce detainee processing times and improve the working environment for all the staff.

Alongside the custody suite for up to 40 detainees, there is office accommodation to support up to 450 police staff. We collaborated with the Senior Officers, Police and Crime Commissioner and frontline staff to look at how the building could support new ways of working, thereby reinforcing Devon and Cornwall Police’s position as a modern force.

We raised the building by 975mm to place the cut-and-fill line on the custody boundary and reduce cart offsite by around 65%.

In contrast to the existing 1950s custody suite, where detention officers worked in substandard conditions, our design is an appealing place to work.

It’s been carefully formulated to improve processing times, comply with affray route requirements and optimise space.

The resulting scheme has an inspiring, open-plan office space that focuses on natural light and optimal acoustics, offering staff outside views as well as a wider variety of areas such as breakout spaces and private telephone booths. 

We held an internal photography competition with staff to be incorporated into the new internal graphics and branding. Among staff this has been hugely successful, with high levels of engagement – and has created a sense of pride in the building in which they come to work.

The building has been recognised with a number of award entries, including:

Winner of a CABE Built Environment Award presented by cordek.com – and recognised for demonstrating exceptional design, performance in use and health and safety.

Winner in the Civils Category at the Concrete Society Awards in Plymouth.

Crucially, Corstorphine & Wright improved the scheme within the existing budget, meaning Devon and Cornwall Police get more value for the same price.

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