Border Force Expectations

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Welcome to the second edition of Expectations for Border Force custody suites, the standards by which we inspect outcomes for detainees in Border Force custody facilities. The Expectations arise from the requirement to inspect treatment and conditions in Border Force custody. This edition builds on our Expectations for police custody while recognising the distinct experience detainees held in designated Border Force custody facilities may encounter. These Expectations allow us to fulfil our responsibility to deliver independent and objective assessments of outcomes for detainees in Border Force custody facilities.

The requirement to inspect designated Border Force custody facilities arises from the UK’s status as a party to the UN Optional Protocol against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). OPCAT aims to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty from ill-treatment, including by requiring States to have in place a system of regular, independent visits to all places of detention. OPCAT sets out both an international and a national framework for monitoring detention. At the national level, States Parties must establish or designate an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention. The UK’s NPM is made up of 21 established bodies, including HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMI Prisons).

The NPM must:

  • regularly examine the treatment of people deprived of their liberty in places of detention;
  • make recommendations to the relevant authorities with the aim of improving the treatment and conditions of detainees; and
  • submit proposals and observations concerning existing draft legislation.

The programme of Border Force custody inspections takes place approximately every two years, with a risk-based approach to decide any follow-up visits. The inspections of these suites are completed as one national inspection within a two-week period. The inspections are undertaken jointly by HMI Prisons and HMICFRS.

Expectations for Border Force custody suites sets out the framework and criteria used by the Inspectorates to assess Border Force custody arrangements and the outcomes for those detained in designated Border Force custody facilities. The Expectations are independent but are informed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 and its codes of practice, relevant legislation, professional guidance on detention and custody and relevant international and regional human rights standards. They are also drawn from inspection experience and wider consultation with external experts. They incorporate learning from the HMICFRS-led thematic inspection of the welfare of vulnerable people in police custody and from the cumulative experience of our joint inspections of police custody and Border Force custody to date.

The Expectations will be used by HMI Prisons and HMICFRS inspectors to assess the custody arrangements of designated Border Force custody facilities in the United Kingdom, with a particular focus on the treatment and conditions of those detained. They also offer a guide to the public and Border Force as to the standards we expect the service to meet.

The Expectations are grouped under four inspection areas:

  • Leadership, accountability and partnerships
  • In the custody suite: booking in, individual needs and legal rights
  • In the custody cell, safeguarding and health care
  • Release and transfer from custody.

Expectations set out the outcome we expect Border Force to achieve.

Indicators suggest evidence that may demonstrate whether the outcomes have been met. Forces do not have to meet each indicator; the list is not exhaustive and does not exclude other means of achieving the outcome.

This version of the Expectations takes effect from January 2020.

Wendy Williams

HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services

Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons