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Delta police using Surrey RCMP jail cells, but for how long?

Surrey continues to allow Delta to use its jail facility despite currently not having a signed agreement
A review of the DPD’s jail over a decade ago identified concerns with the aging facility including liability and upgrade costs. Delta Optimist file

The Delta Police Department (DPD) is hoping it can continue sending its apprehended suspects to neighbouring Surrey to be held in custody.

Chief Neil Dubord earlier this month provided the Delta Police Board with an update on cell block services, which for the past number of years has seen those detained by police in Delta transferred to the Surrey RCMP’s jail.

In January 2023, a five-year renewal agreement was circulated for signature, but while the City of Delta and the DPD signed, the City of Surrey did not sign off.

Despite the unsigned agreement, Surrey has continued to provide cell block services to the DPD based on good faith.

Dubord said he “heard through the grapevine” that Surrey may officially terminate its contract with Delta, adding they appeared to be on “tenuous” ground with Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke.

The DPD had to come up with a contingency including using the Public Safety Building in North Delta, but several measures were required such as contracting cell guard services to manage in-custody prisoner operations and custody transfers to BC Sheriffs, as well as contracting medical services.

Dubord said he has since talked with Surrey Police Service Chief Constable Norm Lipinski who indicated the DPD could be able to continue use the jail facility, added Dubord,

The B.C. government last week announced that it has set Nov. 29, 2024 as the date when the Surrey Police Service will take over from the RCMP as that city’s force of jurisdiction.

DPD’s cell block facilities and prisoner management practices were reviewed in 2012, which identified concerns including renovations to Delta’s jail cells in Ladner not deemed as feasible.

As a result, DPD decided to enter into an agreement with the City of Surrey to contract out cell block services, a fee-for-service agreement for housing DPD prisoners and access to interview facilities.

The original agreement with Surrey was for a five-year term beginning in September 2013 and it was renewed in 2018 for an additional two years, with an updated fee structure and a fee-for- prisoner medical services added. The agreement again was renewed for a two-year term on January 1, 2020, but it was an interim agreement intended to manage uncertainty surrounding the Surrey police transition.

The DPD’s cost in 2023 to house a total of 514 prisoners in Surrey was $206,101, up just over $20,000 from the previous year, according to Dubord’s report.