Leicestershire Police Custody - Respectful detention focusing on individual needs
Leicestershire Police was assessed by criminal justice inspectors as treating individuals in custody with respect, showing good understanding of the wide range of diverse needs of those held in its suites.
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Inspectors who visited in February 2020 identified a caring culture among custody staff, who treated detainees with empathy and worked to improve rapport and positive interactions. Detainees said they had been well treated during their time in custody.
Leicestershire delivers its custody services as part of a collaboration between four forces in the East Midlands. Inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services noted conditions and cleanliness in the custody suites were good overall.
Inspectors also made other positive findings:
- the force had a clear priority to divert children and vulnerable people with complex needs, including those who are mentally ill, away from custody. Custody staff interacted well with children and provided them with good care. Few children were charged and refused bail but, despite close working with partners, those refused bail were not moved to alternative accommodation as they should have been;
- officers and staff engaged patiently with detainees to avoid the need to use force on them. In the cases inspectors looked at, including some on closed-circuit television, when force had been used it had generally been proportionate and necessary, and managed well;
- custody officers had a good understanding of how to meet the broad range of detainees’ diverse needs, with some good individualised care provided. There was a wide range of religious observance materials and some good help for those who did not speak English. However, provision to meet the needs of female detainees was mixed; and
- initial and ongoing training for police custody officers was effective, though ongoing training for custody detention officers, under contract with G4S, was not as good and staff were also not always effectively deployed and were sometimes overstretched.
There were two causes for concern:
- the force did not consistently meet the requirements of PACE codes C and G for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons. This concerned most notably the authorisation and review of detention; and
- though some evidence viewed by inspectors showed proportionate use of force, the overall governance and oversight of the use of force were limited. Not all incidents involving the use of force in custody had been recorded, making the data unreliable and preventing effective scrutiny. Although the force reviewed some cases to assess how incidents were dealt with, the effectiveness of this was also limited by the unreliable data.
Overall, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said:
“As part of the wider governance arrangements, Leicestershire Police had its own governance structure, which provided accountability for its custody services. It encouraged and facilitated access to a range of external scrutiny, including an effective independent custody visitor scheme. The force had made some progress in improving outcomes for detainees in some areas (since the previous 2014 inspection). However, a number of concerns remained, although we were confident that the force would use the findings from the inspection to drive the necessary improvements.”
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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.
- 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.
- Leicestershire Police delivers its custody services as part of the formal and well-established regional collaboration with Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Police forces. This report describes the findings following an unannounced inspection between 3 and 13 February 2020. Leicestershire has 67 cells in three custody suites, with a further three cells in the Leicester City King Power football stadium. It had an annual throughput of 13,739 detainees from 1 February 2019 to 31 January 2020. Leicestershire custody facilities were last inspected in September 2014.
- To aid improvement, inspectors have made two recommendations to the force (and the Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner) addressing key causes of concern, and have highlighted an additional 18 areas for improvement. These are set out in Section 6 of the report.
- Please contact John Steele (HMIP Press Office) on 07880 787452 or the HMICFRS Press Office on 020 3513 0634 if you would like more information.