#013/2010 – Police Custody in North Yorkshire – generally positive

Police custody in North Yorkshire was a broadly positive picture, though there were some improvements needed, said Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of a joint inspection into custody suites in North Yorkshire Police.

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and covered six custody suites in York, Harrogate, Scarborough, Northallerton, Skipton and Selby.

Overall, the inspection found that detention was well-managed and there were some areas of excellent practice. However there were also areas for improvement.

Inspectors found that:

  • a clear management structure was in place and the overall staffing model was good;
  • there had been considerable investment in upgrading the estate;
  • custody staff were respectful and caring in their dealings with detainees;
  • accommodation was generally clean, well decorated and free from graffiti;
  • Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) codes were adhered to robustly; and
  • detainees with little or no English were generally well catered for.

However, there were some concerns:

  • there were some ligature points in cells and staff did not generally carry anti-ligature knives;
  • all detainees were risk assessed on arrival, but some risk assessments had not reflected available intelligence of self-harm or suicide-related behaviour;
  • there were problems with the storage and handling of DNA and forensic samples at most of the custody suites; and
  • apart from Scarborough, there was no contractual provision of mental health support, yet custody suites were all used as designated places of safety under the Mental Health Act.

Inspectors were also concerned that early court cut-off times in Scarborough and Harrogate could lead to unnecessary detention overnight, which needed to be addressed at a strategic level.

The Chief Inspectors said:

“This inspection of police custody suites identified a generally positive picture of custody in North Yorkshire. However, this report sets out a number of recommendations we believe will assist the chief constable and the Police Authority to improve the quality of provision. We expect them to consider these in the wider context of force priorities and resourcing and to provide us with an action plan in due course.”


Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 June 2010 at www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons.
  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. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the 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 and the British Transport Police and HMRC.
  4. This joint inspection was carried out from 15-19 February 2010.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMIP Press Office) on 0207 035 2123 or 07880 787452 from 0915 to 1430 Monday to Friday or Robert Stansfield (HMIC Press Office) on 020 7802 1824 if you would like more information or to request an interview.