Police custody in Camden – good overall

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Police custody in Camden was generally positive, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of an unannounced inspection.

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody. It looked at the custody suites serving the London Borough of Camden within the Metropolitan Police Service, comprising suites at Holborn and Kentish Town, open 24 hours a day.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • custody issues were discussed at a range of meetings, providing adequate oversight;
  • there were positive interactions between staff and detainees at both suites, including staff asking additional questions when detainees were booked in to ensure awareness of all the potential risks posed;
  • there was good use of cells with CCTV for those with self-harm issues;
  • immigration detainees were dealt with promptly;
  • a mental health liaison scheme was in place and there was some good partnership working to improve detainee care; and
  • custody was not used as a place of safety under the Mental Health Act.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • as with other police forces, there was a lack of appropriate monitoring of the use of force, both locally and London-wide;
  • a lack of custody support inspectors available to undertake basic Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) duties led to delays;
  • the suite at Kentish Town was in much poorer condition than the one at Holborn;
  • the latest time that a detainee could be seen in court was particularly early and although this was something custody staff had no control over, it potentially had a detrimental effect on detainee welfare.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Overall, custody provision in Camden was good. Strategic oversight was reasonable and detainees were treated respectfully. This report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the force and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to improve provision further. We expect our findings to be considered in the wider context of priorities and resourcing, and for an action plan to be provided in due course.”

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Read ‘Camden – Joint inspection of police custody suites’


  1. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP Press Office) on 07880 787452 or Phil Gillen (HMIC Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information.
  2. 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.