Vulnerable people in police custody

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.

The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody

In January 2014, the Home Secretary commissioned HMIC to carry out an inspection on the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody. This work included, but was not limited to, those with mental health problems, those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and children.

This inspection highlights good practice, identifies areas for improvement and makes national recommendations.

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The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody

The inspection

The inspection sought to answer the following question:

How effective are police services at identifying and responding to vulnerabilities and associated risks to the welfare of detainees in police custody?

To answer this question we did a number of things, including:

  • looking at other recent national reports and investigations that have been concerned with vulnerability in police custody;
  • making six unannounced inspections of police custody arrangements; these were part of our rolling programme of custody inspections that we carry out with HM Inspectorate of Prisons; and
  • designing a specific project to find out about the experiences of people who have been detained in police custody.

We set up an expert reference group to assist us with this work.

Read more about our approach to carrying out this work and the terms of reference and membership of our expert reference group.

A criminal use of police cells? The use of police custody as a place of safety for people with mental health needs

In 2013, HMIC, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the Care Quality Commission and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales carried out a joint inspection looking at use of police cells as a place of safety for people with mental health needs.

Read A criminal use of police cells? The use of police custody as a place of safety for people with mental health needs