#020/2012 Police custody in Bromley – well organised

Police custody provision in Bromley 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 suite in the centre of Bromley which operates 24 hours a day. Overall there were some areas of excellent practice, but some areas which still needed to be addressed.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there was proactive, visible leadership from senior officers in the borough and the presence of a permanent custody manager and permanent staff supported consistent performance;
  • there was strong partnership working and good engagement with the independent custody visitors scheme;
  • detainees were treated well on arrival and in the cells, physical conditions were good and the suite was well controlled;
  • the use of handcuffs and strip-searching was proportionate;
  • risk assessment was thorough and care planning was good;
  • the virtual court system was being used effectively, but seemed to result in people being held for longer in police custody, especially when they were remanded into custody by the court;
  • the primary health care service was good, although clinical governance and audit were not clearly defined; and
  • there was good access to the substance misuse service and to mental health provision, with a promising pilot diversion and liaison scheme.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • refresher training and training for custody assistants were not adequate, and staff needed training in mental health awareness;
  • quality assurance measures lacked focus on the welfare and safety of detainees; and
  • there were some problems with delays in accessing interpretation.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Overall, the borough’s custody operation was sound and well organised. Outcomes for detainees were positive across many aspects of detention. There was room for further improvement, particularly through a focused and more proactive approach by staff to the welfare of those detained, as well as attention to staff training and more thorough quality assurance. This report sets out a small number of recommendations that we hope will assist the Metropolitan Police Service 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.”


Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 18 September 2012 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 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 8-10 May 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.