Leicestershire police custody – impressive work with partners to provide mental health service
Police custody in Leicestershire was generally positive and police were working hard with others to provide an excellent mental health service, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary in the report of an unannounced inspection.
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The inspection was part of a national programme of unannounced joint inspections of police custody and the second inspection of Leicestershire police custody suites. The first inspection was in August 2009. For this more recent inspection, inspectors visited the full-time custody suites at Beaumont Leys, Euston Street and Keyham Lane and the standby suite at Wigston.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- there were highly innovative police and health care partnerships which prevented mentally ill people going into police custody in the first place;
- direct access to NHS beds for mentally ill people considerably shortened unnecessary stays in custody;
- other areas of health provision were very positive;
- substance misuse services were of a good standard; and
- custody teams were polite and courteous.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- there was no local authority secure accommodation for children refused bail and limited availability of foster care or similar for children who could be bailed but who could not go home;
- in some cases, children had been fingerprinted, photographed and given DNA samples without an appropriate adult present;
- risk assessments for detainees arriving into custody were variable;
- use of force in custody was not recorded separately; and
- there was no evidence that custody-specific refresher training was available for staff to update their skills and knowledge.
Martin Lomas and Dru Sharpling said:
“Leicestershire police had made considerable efforts working with other organisations to provide an excellent mental health and police combined service. It was one of the better services we have seen. Health care was clearly an area of good practice, however, services to children in custody would benefit from the same focus and attention. Areas of weakness requiring improvements included aspects of risk management, limited accountability in how force was recorded and monitored and weak arrangements to allow learning from adverse incidents.”
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- 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.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
- Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 enables a police officer to remove someone from a public place and take them to a place of safety – for example, a police station or health care setting. It also states clearly that the purpose of being taken to the place of safety is to enable the person to be examined by a doctor and interviewed by an approved social worker, and for the making of any necessary arrangements for treatment or care.
- This joint inspection was carried out from 8-17 September 2014.
- Please contact Jane Parsons (HM Inspectorate of Prisons) on 07880 787452 or Phil Gillen (HMIC) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information.