Detainees are held in a safe and clean environment in which their safety is protected at all points during custody.

Physical environment

4.1 Detainees are held in a custody suite that feels and is safe, and is in a good state of repair.


  • Cells and communal areas are clean, free from potential ligature points and graffiti, of a suitable temperature, and well ventilated, with access to natural light. There are working fire alarms and equipment throughout the custody suite.
  • Staff conduct daily checks of the court custody facilities to ensure these are fit for purpose. Any defects or faults identified are reported and addressed promptly.
  • All cells are equipped with working call bell systems that cannot be permanently muted.
  • The route to the court room does not pass through a public area and has sufficient alarms to call for assistance.
  • There are adequate arrangements in place for daily cleaning, removing any biological hazards, regular deep cleaning and prompt repair of any defects.
  • Staff can safely evacuate the custody area in the event of an emergency and evacuations are regularly practised and recorded.

Use of force

4.2 Any force used from first point of contact is strictly necessary, proportionate and lawful. It is used as a last resort and subject to robust governance to ensure accountability. It is carried out by trained staff using approved techniques.


  • All staff are trained in and use effective de-escalation techniques.
  • Where force is used, staff only use approved techniques in line with their training, with no more force and for no longer than is strictly necessary and proportionate.
  • Detainees are only handcuffed in secure and controlled court custody environments when justified by an individual risk assessment.
  • All staff involved in the use of force against a detainee complete individual use of force statements promptly, which clearly explain what happened and why force was used. Documentation is subject to robust quality assurance to ensure that the force is necessary and proportionate.
  • When force is used, it is routinely recorded and monitored, with data analysed and action taken to address any concerns and trends.
  • Staff can demonstrate awareness of the risks associated with forms of restraint and of how these risks can be minimised. When force is used detainees are examined by a health care professional if requested, or if there are any health care concerns.
  • Court custody and escort staff are made aware when a female detainee is pregnant and are specifically trained in the control and restraint of pregnant women. Following restraint, pregnant women are routinely asked if they wish to see a health care professional.
  • Detainees in need of mental health care who are restrained for their own or others’ safety are treated as a medical emergency.
  • Detainees are only subject to proportionate searching which is sensitively and properly conducted.

Detainee care

4.3 Detainees are well looked after.


  • Detainees are offered sufficient nutritious food and drink in accordance with their dietary, cultural and religious requirements.
  • Detainees are routinely offered suitable activities, including reading materials in a range of common languages and accessible formats.
  • Detainees can use the toilet in private and toilet paper is readily available. Hand washing and drying facilities are provided.
  • Detainees are presented to court appropriately dressed.


4.4 Detainees are protected from harm and neglect. They receive effective care and support.


  • Custody and escort staff understand the obligations and duties arising from safeguarding (protection of children and adults at risk).
  • Staff are trained in safeguarding. They have the knowledge required to communicate with and protect vulnerable groups in their care and make suitable referrals to partner agencies.
  • Current government and local guidance about safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is accessible, and safeguarding procedures are known and used by all staff.
  • There are arrangements in place to inform the local youth offending service immediately if a child is held in custody.
  • There are opportunities for the most vulnerable detainees, including children, to receive a family visit in exceptional circumstances. If a visit is not practicable, detainees may make a phone call to family members if appropriate.
  • Staff engage with all relevant agencies to ensure detainees are appropriately cared for and supported.


4.5 Children are kept safe in custody and treated according to their needs. They are held for the minimum time possible.


  • Children are kept safe in custody and separate from adults and those who might pose a risk to them. Where it is appropriate to do so, children are not held in cells.
  • Children have a named member of staff they can turn to if they have a problem. Staff build positive relationships with children and effectively respond to children’s concerns.
  • Girls under the age of 18 are allocated and informed of the identity of a named female officer who is responsible for meeting their welfare needs while detained.
  • Custody staff seek to prioritise and progress cases involving children so that they spend as little time in custody as possible.
  • Children are offered age-appropriate activities.
  • Only age-appropriate and approved restraint techniques are used for children. When force is used, children are always examined promptly by an appropriately qualified health care professional.


4.6 Detainees are cared for by health care practitioners who have the appropriate skills and training, in a safe, professional and caring manner that respects their decency, privacy and dignity.



  • The requirements for health services for detainees in court custody is assessed and the services provided are appropriate for the need.
  • Clinical governance arrangements include regular meetings between providers and commissioners, robust incident management and learning, a confidential complaints process, and monitoring of response times for all the health and associated patient outcomes.
  • Detainees are assessed and treated by easily recognisable, competent health care practitioners who can meet their needs. Health care practitioners receive ongoing training, supervision and support to maintain their professional registration and development.

Access and care

  • Detainees are physically and mentally well enough to attend court, and clear escalation processes are in place if they are deemed not well enough to attend.
  • Court staff are all aware of how to access timely health advice and attendance, and make referrals as appropriate.
  • Detainees have ready access to liaison and diversion health professionals who can support individuals as required to ensure they can participate in court proceedings. Liaison and diversion staff provide timely advice about diversion out of the criminal justice system.
  • All staff know what to do in an emergency, and a joint protocol is in place for obtaining emergency health care for detainees.
  • An adequate number of court custody staff are trained in how to administer first aid. They have access to first aid and suitable resuscitation equipment, including an automated external defibrillator, which is regularly checked, maintained and ready to use.
  • Health care practitioners are sensitive to detainees’ diverse needs. Detainees can request a health care practitioner of the gender of their choice. Health care practitioners have access to professional confidential interpretation for both face-to-face and telephone consultations.
  • Health staff have access to detainees’ clinical and social care records, and manage them in line with professional practice and within appropriate information sharing protocols.
  • Subject to data sharing legislation and guidelines, health care professionals ensure relevant health information is shared with other agencies to ensure continuity of care and medicines. Health information is transferred confidentially if it travels with the person escort record.
  • Court custody staff support the role of health care staff in assessing and treating detainees needing health care.
  • Clinical examination and health consultations are risk managed and undertaken within an appropriate environment that maintains privacy, dignity and decency.


  • Medicines are handled and transported safely, and stored securely. A protocol is in place for the administration of medication and, where clinically appropriate, detainees can access ongoing opiate substitution therapy and/or continue to receive symptomatic relief if detoxifying, including alcohol and nicotine withdrawal.
  • Where medicines are not kept on site there are arrangements in place for the legal prescribing and obtaining of relevant medicines.

Human rights standards
In relation to expectations 4.1–4.6: Human rights standards require detainees to be held in safe and sanitary conditions that pay due respect to their dignity. The individual needs of detainees, including their health needs, must be met. There is a positive obligation to protect detainees from harm, including self-harm, while also giving due weight to the detainee’s other rights, such as the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to privacy and personal autonomy. See ECHR 2, 3, 8; CAT 2, 10–13, 16; OPCAT 19, 20; ICCPR 6, 7, 10; ICESCR 12(1); CRPD 3, 5–7, 13–17, 21, 22; CERD 2, 5; CEDAW 2, 12; YP 9, 10; EPR 18.2, 19.3, 19.7, 20.4, 22.3, 22.5, 54.3–54.5, 68.1; BR 5–8, 10, 19, 20, 26, 28; BOP 1, 5, 6, 19, 24, 26, 28, 29, 31; PME 1. In relation to children specifically see CRC 3, 6, 24(1), 31, 33–37, 40, HR 1, 17, 18, 34, 37, 41, 51, 52, 59, 81, 85 and BeiR 1.1 and 8.1. See also CPT/Inf(2018)24, Transport of detainees and CPT/Inf(2000)13-part, Women deprived of their liberty.