#026/2013 Police custody in Nottinghamshire – well managed and better conditions in cells

Police custody provision in Nottinghamshire had significantly improved, 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 three custody suites operating 24 hours a day: Nottingham Bridewell, Mansfield and Newark. This inspection is a follow-up of the one undertaken in September 2011. The police force had made significant progress, especially in the conditions of the cells.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • there were good internal management and meeting structures;
  • detainees were treated with respect;
  • inspectors observed staff who were compassionate and skilled in dealing with potential conflict situations and with vulnerable detainees;
  • the police force had actively increased the use of voluntary attendance as an alternative to arrest, thereby reducing an unnecessary burden on custody;
  • Nottinghamshire was part of a pilot encouraging the use of legal advice in the suite by some detainees who might otherwise of declined it in case it prolonged their stay in custody; and
  • the force had recognised the problems with the provision of health services by Medacs and was taking steps to address them.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

    there needed to be more robust partnership arrangements covering mental health care, children and young people and senior managers needed to ensure there were places of safety for vulnerable groups;

  • detainees who had their clothes removed for their own safety were not always provided with strip-clothing or observed by staff of the same gender;
  • the force had implemented a policy that meant all domestic abuse cases were dealt with in Mansfield, but there was little provision for detainees and their safe return home, especially if released late at night;
  • the force adhered to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) definition of a child, treating 17-year-olds as adults, meaning the young people were not supported by an appropriate adult; and
  • not all health care staff were trained in using resuscitation equipment.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“In summary, considerable progress had been made against previous recommendations. The senior management had a responsible approach to improving custody provision, and the physical conditions of the custody suites had vastly improved. Individual staff demonstrated a high level of commitment. Partnership arrangements for the care of vulnerable detainees needed to be more robust and the force needed to ensure that the undignified treatment of some detainees at risk of self-harm ceased.

“This report provides a 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 plant 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 15 August 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 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 March 2013.
  5. In all other UK law and international treaty obligations, 17-year-olds are treated as children. In April 2013, the High Court ruled that the PACE definition was incompatible with human rights law and the government announced that it would accept this judgment.
  6. Please contact Phil Gillen (HMIC Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information.