#011/2013 – Police custody in Hampshire – improvements needed in health care provision

Police custody provision in Hampshire was generally positive, but health care was in need of attention, 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 nine custody suites operating 24 hours a day: Aldershot, Basingstoke, Fareham, Lyndhurst, Newport (Isle of Wight), Portsmouth, Southampton, Waterlooville and Winchester. It also looked at two reserve suites, Alton and Havant. Overall there had been improvements, but some areas which still needed to be addressed.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • strategic control had improved, with a move to centralised management of custody and full staffing;
  • inspectors were managing the staff actively, there was clear communication with staff and training was good;
  • staff were positive and considerate in their treatment of detainees, and often very caring towards vulnerable people;
  • suites were kept clean, despite most showing signs of wear and tear;
  • managers were fully aware that detention needed to be justified in each case;
  • there was good liaison with the Border Force and with armed services, which had many personnel based in the area; and
  • there was, on the whole, good attention to the legal rights of detainees.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • none of the medical rooms was fit for purpose and there was a lack of strategic oversight and control;
  • the performance of the main contracted provider of primary care was not monitored, and there was evidence that detainees had to wait too long to see a health care professional;
  • arrangements for substance misuse interventions were patchy and mental health provision was similarly complex and inconsistent;
  • the number of people detained on mental health grounds in police custody was reducing, but remained too high;
  • provision for people with disabilities was weak in most suites;
  • appropriate adults were available for young people and vulnerable adults in the daytime but less so out of hours;
  • rousing checks for intoxicated people were not systematic, and continuous supervision of those at highest risk was not always carried out properly.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

Overall, the force has recently improved its strategic grasp of custody work, but needs to extend this to health care provision, and this report highlights a number of other areas where consistency and compliance can be further improved across the force. The report provides a small number of recommendations to assist the force and the Police and Crime Commissioner 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.


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 7 May 2013 at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/police-cell (external link)
  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 to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
  4. This joint inspection was carried out from 12-16 November 2012.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP Press Office) on 020 7035 2123 or 07880 787452 or Phil Gillen (HMIC Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information or to request an interview.