#030/2010 – Police custody in Kensington & Chelsea – generally positive

Police custody in Kensington and Chelsea was generally positive, but health care provision requires attention, said Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, and Nigel Newcomen, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of a joint inspection into custody suites in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The inspection covered the main custody suites in Chelsea and Notting Hill, as well as the part-time facility in Kensington. Overall, it found some good practice and some areas of excellence.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • a clear management structure was in place and, overall, the staffing model was good;
  • suites were generally clean, with little graffiti, and efforts had been made to minimise ligature points;
  • custody staff were generally respectful in their dealings with detainees; and
  • substance use and mental health services were generally good.

Inspectors also found that:

  • health care governance arrangements were unclear, lacking robust monitoring to ensure a consistent service was delivered, while clinical rooms were not up to standard and some medications were not stored correctly;
  • there was no structured collation of information on the use of force to enable trend analysis; and
  • although the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) were robustly adhered to, this meant appropriate adults were not routinely sought for 17 year olds.

The Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector said:

“This inspection identified a generally positive picture of custody provision in Kensington and Chelsea, although health care provision requires attention. This report sets out a number of recommendations that we believe will assist the Metropolitan Police and the Police Authority to improve the quality of custody 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. Separate inspections of three London Boroughs (Brent, Kensington & Chelsea and Greenwich) were carried out between 26 April and 16 June 2010 as part of an ongoing programme of joint inspections of police custody conditions. The programme is projected to be over a six-year period, during which time all police forces in England and Wales, and all London Boroughs will be inspected at least once each.
  2. All the boroughs subject of these reports are policed by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), but most aspects of the provision of custody services are the responsibility of local command teams and therefore areas of concern will normally need to be tackled at that level. In addition, there are some aspects of policy and strategic management which are handled at the force level and some recommendations in individual reports are therefore directed more widely to the MPS and/or the Metropolitan Police Authority.
  3. The three reports (Greenwich, Kensington & Chelsea and Brent) have been published together to provide an opportunity for both local and force level response, but reducing the overall administrative impact that separate publication might create for the MPS and MPA.
  4. These joint inspections were carried out: Greenwich: 26-29 April 2010; Brent: 18-20 May 2010; and Kensington and Chelsea: 14-16 June 2010.
  5. A copy of each of the full reports can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 September 2010 at www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Please contact Jane Parsons (HMI Prisons press office) on 020 7035 2123 or 07880 787452 or Robert Stansfield (HMIC Press Office) on 020 7802 1824 if you would like more information or to request an interview.