Police custody in Humberside – respectful treatment but improvements needed in some areas
Detainees in Humberside police custody suites were generally treated respectfully and officers dealt well with challenging individuals, according to a report on an inspection of the force’s custody facilities.
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However, inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), who visited Humberside suites in October 2017, also found a number of areas of concern.
Among positive findings, inspectors noted that a new custody suite in Hull provided a better environment for detainees.
There had also been “significant progress” in avoiding taking individuals detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 into custody as a place of safety. Furthermore, there was “a good focus” on diverting children away from custody or minimising the time they spent there. The number of children entering custody had reduced significantly over the last few years, though too many who were refused bail were held overnight in custody, rather than more suitable alternative accommodation.
Publishing the inspection report, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and HM Inspector of Constabulary, Dru Sharpling, highlighted several concerns:
- Children and vulnerable adults did not always receive early support from appropriate adults (AAs). There were limited arrangements for vulnerable adults. Though AA arrangements were good for children, there were problems in getting an appropriate adult during the overnight period. The report noted: “Some custody processes were carried out without an AA present, including strip-searching of children, which was a breach of PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.)”
- Overall, the force was not complying with some of the requirements under code C of PACE for the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects.
- As in 2012, when Humberside was last inspected, inspectors identified a number of potential ligature points in custody suites, which posed a risk to detainees.
- There were different working practices among custody officers. The report also noted: “There were generally sufficient custody staff resources, but there was a reliance on frontline officers to provide additional cover. There was little staffing resilience to cope with busy periods.”
Other findings related to what inspectors assessed as insufficient governance of the use of force. The report noted: “Custody staff generally dealt patiently and sensitively with some challenging detainees. They told us they would only use force as a last resort and following appropriate negotiations with detainees. However, individual staff accountability for use of force against detainees was inadequate.”
Peter Clarke and Dru Sharpling said:
“This is our first inspection of police custody in Humberside since 2012. Our findings suggest that although progress had been made in some areas, overall improvement was limited.”
Their 2017 report offered three recommendations and 43 areas for improvement.
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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.
- 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).
- 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 joint custody suite inspection was carried out between 2-13 October 2017.
- 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.
- Inspectors visited suites in Clough Road and Priory Road in Hull, and in Bridlington, Grimsby and Scunthorpe.
- Please contact John Steele (HMIP Press Office) on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 or Raymond Li (HMICFRS Press Office) on 020 3513 0634 if you would like more information.