#014/2011 – Police custody in West Yorkshire – significantly improved


#014/2011 Police custody in West Yorkshire – significantly improved

Police custody provision in West Yorkshire was largely positive, though some concerns remained, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary, publishing the report of a joint unannounced inspection into custody suites in West Yorkshire.

The inspection was part of a national programme of joint inspections of police custody and covered ten custody suites serving Leeds (Weetwood, Stainbeck and Bridewell), Ossett, Pontefract, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Bradford (Central Charging Office and Lawcroft House) and Keighley. Custody suites at Dewsbury and Calderdale were closed for refurbishment. Overall, there were some areas of excellent practice, as well as a few areas which needed to be addressed.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the strategic management and leadership of custody provision were excellent and could serve as a model to other forces;
  • the physical condition of the custody suites had improved and they had been made safer;
  • there was a clear and positive estates strategy which should lead to further improvement;
  • staff treated detainees professionally and respectfully;
  • there was a positive approach to balancing the priorities of progressing investigations against the rights of detainees; and
  • health care was generally good.

However, there were some concerns:

  • some cells in Leeds Bridewell were used for court detainees and were routinely used by police when the court was not operating, but appeared in worse condition than the cells used solely for police detainees;
  • arrangements needed to be tailored for detainees with particular needs, such as women and children; and
  • the force inappropriately held a large number of people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act as a ‘place of safety’ and needed to address this with relevant health bodies.

Nick Hardwick and Dru Sharpling said:

“Police custody in West Yorkshire has much improved and in some areas provides a model to other forces. Its weaknesses often occur where it is reliant on others for the provision of services or joint responsibilities. We hope this report will help the force resolve these concerns.”


Notes to editors

  1. A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 20 July 2011 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/police-cell/index.htm.
  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 21 to 25 March 2011.
  5. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMI Prisons press office) on 07880 787452 or Ruth Allman or Angharad Thomas (HMI Constabulary Press Office) on 020 3513 0600 if you would like more information or to request an interview.