#025/2012 Police custody in the City of London – reasonably good

Police custody provision in the City of London was reasonably good, 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 one full-time designated custody suite at Bishopsgate police station and one standby suite at Snow Hill. 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 healthy interaction between City of London police, the Police Committee of the City Corporation and independent custody visitors;
  • custody was not used disproportionately;
  • staff treated detainees with dignity;
  • Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) procedures were efficiently carried out;
  • risk assessments were thorough and the use of handcuffs was proportionate;
  • the suites were reasonably clean and in good condition;
  • immigration detainees were moved on without long delays;
  • the appropriate adult service was good and interpretation was used when necessary; and
  • there was good cover by nurses and the substance misuse service was working effectively.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • systematic management oversight was lacking in key risk areas such as safety checks, quality assurance of custody records and staff handovers;
  • because custody staff were not permanent, there was a risk of inconsistency in the day-to-day supervision of police gaolers;
  • clinical rooms were in a poor state;
  • the level of performance in the delivery of the health care contract was not being sufficiently examined; and
  • working relationships with the mental health trust were good but there was a need for a diversion/liaison service and better organisation of 136 procedures.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Those held in police custody in the City of London were held in reasonably good conditions and were treated well. This report sets out a small number of recommendations that we hope will help the City of London Police and the Corporation of the City of London 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 02 November 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 unannounced joint inspection was carried out from 18-20 June 2012.
  5. Please contact Ruth Allman (HMIC Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information or to request an interview.