As previously reported, the suite at Bolton Police Station, in Scholey Street, Burnden, will now only be used for custody cases in “exceptional circumstances”.
People arrested in Bolton will now be directed to custody suites at neighbouring stations and the location of the arrest will determine which custody suite deals with the matter.
Solicitors and barristers have spoken of their concerns about the changes.
Nick Ross, of Russell and Russell Solicitors, said: “The final decision has been made after periods of consultation.
“Typically, there is an air of inevitability and the decision has been made.
“It is bad news. It will be immensely inconvenient to us but especially inconvenient to members of the public who are going to be required to attend stations that are quite removed from Bolton.
“For example Wigan is quite inaccessible, there are not great transport routes or connections. It is particularly problematic.”
People arrested in Horwich and Blackrod, Horwich North East, Westhoughton North and Westhoughton South will be sent to Wigan to be dealt with.
Bolton town centre, Heaton and Lostock, Farnworth, Kearsley, Little Lever, Harper Green and Hulton cases will be handled in Swinton.
Bury custody suite will handle Smithills, Astley Bridge, Bromley Cross, Bradshaw, Crompton, Tonge and the Haulgh and Breightmet.
Mr Ross continued: “The impact will also be on officers. A lot of man hours will be lost. I understand the economics of it.
“It is obvious it is down to economics for the so-called largest town in Britain not to have a custody office. The number of arrests that take place in a town this size is quite incredible.”
The Scholey Street station opened a decade ago with 19 cells, replacing the force’s previous Howell Croft North base and boasting a modern custody suite with expanded cell capacity.
Since the end of February the public inquiry counter at Scholey Street has been operating shortened opening hours – 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends.
The station has the only manned reception in the borough since the desk in Horwich closed.
Custody suite at Bolton Police Station, Scholey Street, to close
Speaking about the decision to close the suite previously, Superintendent Chris Hankinson, from GMP, said that the force is dealing with more people through forms of restorative justice and alternatives to custody.
He said that changes to local policing mean that things are now focused on having one officer to take charge of the case and they are seeing shorter times in custody.
Mr Hankinson added that there is not a need for the number of cells that the force has and reassured people that the service it provides will not be affected. Officers will continue to prioritise working with partner agencies to intervene at the earliest opportunity to try and divert people from ending up in custody.