Cheshire Constabulary custody - very good overall, says inspectors
Custody in the Cheshire Constabulary area was found by inspectors to be “very good overall” with a number of strengths and areas of commendable practice.
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Inspectors who visited unannounced in September 2018 found that the force was “properly focused on the good treatment of detainees”.
The leadership and accountability for custody services in Cheshire were good, with a clear objective to divert children and vulnerable people away from custody. “There was also a strategic focus on reducing reoffending, which was unusual to find in our inspections of police custody,” inspectors noted.
There were sufficient numbers of custody staff and they were well trained, though the lack of visibility and oversight from custody inspectors was a weakness. Some aspects of the way Cheshire Constabulary worked with partners on medical care were commended by inspectors as good practice.
The report also noted that Cheshire “engaged well with partner agencies, particularly to divert children and people experiencing mental ill health from custody. The lack of capacity of the relevant external services meant that outcomes for children were not always good enough. However, services for mentally unwell people were coordinated and generally effective.” Like many police forces inspected, Cheshire struggled to find alternative overnight accommodation for children arrested, taken into custody and refused bail.
Inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services identified one cause of concern. The report explained: “There were also some notable areas where the force did not comply with codes C and G of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) for the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects, particularly the conduct and recording of reviews of detention.”
There were also several areas requiring improvement – some relating to aspects of record-keeping which did not reflect the quality of what inspectors saw in practice.
Overall, though, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said:
“This was a very good inspection. We found that the constabulary was properly focused on the good treatment of detainees and had made progress since our last inspection in 2013. Notwithstanding the many positive features, we identified one cause of concern and several areas requiring improvement, which we were confident that the force would be able to address.”
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- A copy of the full report, published on 1 February 2019, can be found on HMI Prison’s website
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
- On 19 July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. HMICFRS will inspect all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
- This report is part of a programme of unannounced inspections of police custody carried out jointly by the two inspectorates and which form a key part of the joint work programme of the criminal justice inspectorates. These inspections also contribute to the United Kingdom’s response to its international obligation to ensure regular and independent inspection of all places of detention. The inspections look at strategy, treatment and conditions, individual rights and health care.
- This report describes the findings following anan unannounced inspection between 3 and 13 September 2018 of three suites – Blacon, Middlewich and Runcorn – with a total of 90 cells.
- Please contact John Steele (HMIP Press Office) on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452 or the HMICFRS Press Office on 020 3513 0634 if you would like more information.