#007/2013 Police custody in Haringey – generally positive

Police custody provision in Haringey was sound, but there were a few inconsistencies, 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 two custody suites operating 24 hours a day in Hornsey and Tottenham. A large, new suite in Wood Green will open late in 2013 and replace the existing two suites. Overall there were many areas of good practice, but some areas which still needed to be addressed.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • senior managers in the borough operational command unit had a clear strategy for custody, centred on moving to the new suite at Wood Green, with dedicated and integrated staffing and management structures planned in preparation;
  • staff treated detainees well;
  • the assessment and management of risk were, on the whole, sound;
  • people were detained for the right reasons, and staff took care to ensure that detainees received their legal rights and entitlements;
  • those who needed assistance – young people, vulnerable adults and those who did not speak English well – received it;
  • the standard of health care was acceptable, with a very good peer review system for doctors; and
  • a good service was provided for those with drug or alcohol problems and, within daytime hours, for those with mental health issues.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • before the move to Wood Green, the lack of a distinct operational focus on custody was leading to some shortfalls in consistency and quality;
  • although arrangements for the assessment and management of risk were mainly sound, they were less so in creating care plans, maintaining the right frequency of observations and preparing detainees for release;
  • reviews of detention were not always carried out appropriately or on time; and
  • waits to see health care professionals were sometimes too long and the medical rooms were unsatisfactory.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Haringey’s custody operation was sound and delivered reasonable outcomes, particularly through the work of some experienced staff, and with recent improvements through the appointment of a full-time custody manager. While the new suite should solve the problem of the outdated environment and equipment, this report identifies a variety of areas where clearer systems and greater consistency could improve delivery further. This report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the force and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to improve provision. 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 09 April 2013 at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/police-cell
  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.
  4. This joint inspection was carried out from 03-05 December 2012.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP 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.