#006/2012 Police custody in Hounslow – mixed

Police custody provision in Hounslow was a mixed picture, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of an inspection into custody suites in Hounslow.

The unannounced inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and covered the two 24-hour custody suites at Hounslow and Chiswick, as well as the overflow custody suite at Brentford. Overall, there were some areas of good practice but a number of areas for improvement.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • cells were generally clean;
  • interactions with detainees were generally appropriate, although some diversity issues warranted further attention;
  • an appropriate balance was maintained between progressing cases and the rights of individuals, and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) was adhered to;
  • arrangements for managing DNA and forensic samples were good; and
  • mental health liaison arrangements were excellent and provided opportunities for best practice to be adopted across the MPS.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • most staff were not working in custody on a permanent basis, although this was being reviewed;
  • no custody refresher training was taking place;
  • as found elsewhere, there was a lack of appropriate monitoring of the use of force, both locally and London-wide;
  • the new prisoner escort service was causing delays and police facilities were being inappropriately used to hold remanded prisoners;
  • management data indicated a disproportionate use of strip-searching of detainees;
  • the lack of a night-time appropriate adult service and local authority PACE beds led to some juveniles being detained unnecessarily overnight; and
  • health care provision was variable, and the stock control of medicines bordered on being dangerous.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Overall, custody provision in Heathrow was mixed, with areas of good practice but clear issues which needed to be addressed. This report sets out a number of recommendations that we hope will assist the MPS and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to improve the facilities 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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 07 February 2012 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/police-cell/index.htm.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 and authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police and HMRC.
  4. This joint inspection was carried out from 3-5 October 2011.
  5. The Metropolitan Police Authority was replaced by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC) on 16 January 2012.
  6. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMI Prisons press office) on 020 7035 2123 or 07880 787452 or Ruth Allman (HMIC Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information or to request an interview.