Hertfordshire Constabulary's custody services have improved, but further changes are needed

Hertfordshire Constabulary has improved its custody services, but there are still some important areas requiring urgent attention, a new report has found.

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Report on an unannounced inspection visit to police custody suites in Hertfordshire

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) found that Hertfordshire Constabulary cares for detainees well, and there is some good work to divert children and vulnerable adults away from custody.

However, HMICFRS and HMIP said more needs to be done to manage risk. The inspectorates have two main causes of concern:

  • lack of oversight over use of force, including concerns over whether the force used was necessary, justified, and proportionate in some cases; and
  • anti-rip clothing continues to be used frequently and sometimes appears punitive or pre-emptive, and a disproportionate response to managing risks.

The inspectorates have therefore made recommendations for Hertfordshire Constabulary to address these concerns, while also highlighting an additional 13 areas for improvement.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher said:

“Anyone detained in custody should be treated fairly and kept safe from harm.

“Hertfordshire Constabulary cares well for its detainees and has a clear governance structure for the safe and respectful provision of custody services. The force has a robust healthcare structure in place and works well with partner agencies to care for those with mental ill health.

“However, we identified some weaknesses in how detainees are treated. Some of the recommendations from our last inspection in 2015 have not been achieved or have only partly been achieved, leaving some important areas of custody requiring urgent attention – including use of force and anti-rip clothing. These are now causes of concern.

“We will continue to monitor the force’s progress to ensure all detainees are kept safe.”

Get the report

Report on an unannounced inspection visit to police custody suites in Hertfordshire


  1. For further information, the HMICFRS Press Office can be contacted on 07836217729 or at HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk.